Prince's "Jam" at Dakota Jazz Club, 1/17/13
|No cameras allowed, so here's Prince's stop on Jimmy Kimmel Live! last year.|
By Kyle Matteson
Prince's "Jam" show, late set
Dakota Jazz Club, Minneapolis
Thursday, January 17, 2013
Playing the fourth of six intimate and way past sold out shows at the Dakota Jazz Club Thursday night, Prince, flanked by a 12 piece band, including an impeccable six-piece horn section, led his band through a blistering 70 minute set of jams, old favorites, and his unmistakable charm.
Thursday night's shows were billed as a "Jam" with an "after party vibe," and while there was certainly no shortage of jamming, the show was actually pretty cohesive and featured a handful of complete songs compared to plenty of other Paisley Park after party/jam sessions I've attended over the years.
Prince speaking from the shadows, dared the crowd to "sit in your seats," prompting everyone to stand beside their assigned tables, which was the first sign that tonight was going to be a very different show and vibe than the previous nights' gigs. After a brief intro jam, the band touched on Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody," before eventually settling on a lengthy version of Prince's own "Days of Wild" (a song dating back to live shows as far back as1994, but never seeing an official studio release). While the overall night belonged to Prince, it's worth noting that Marcus Anderson played an amazing solo that even seemed to impress the Purple Yoda himself.
Another lengthy (new?) song, which featured the refrain "chapters and verse" followed. Prince proclaimed "this is the medicine show, you're gonna get more medicine" at that point, and at the end of the song, he coyly told the crowd "thank you, good night" and walked backstage with most of the band following him. Three female backup singers and a piano player stayed on stage to offer up a mellow but lovely cover of U.K. songwriter Lianne La Havas' (who is playing at the Varsity Theater at the end of March) "Lost & Found."
The show lost a tiny bit of its steam at this point, but rather than coming out swinging and picking the tempo back up right away, Prince did what he does best, and dropped that unforgettable piano intro to "Nothing Compares 2 U." At the start of the song, looking around the room you could feel peoples' eyes welling up and their hearts tightening in their chest. Prince had no problem sharing the spotlight (and vocal mic) dueting with Shelby J, who took her verses to a whole other level.
In what might have been the longest song of the night (which is saying something), "Act of God," off his 2010 album, "cleverly" named 20Ten closed out the main set, but not before tagging a medley featuring Janet Jackson's "What Have You Done For Me Lately" and the Jackson 5's "Dancing Machine" among others. Prince called out a few people still seated in the front row by saying "If you're still sitting, you must either be drunk or hippies," prompting laughter from the crowd, as well as the men to stand up. At the very end of the song, Prince told the crowd "y'all thought you were seeing a 'country western' show?" and proceeded to amusingly sort of fumble his way through the Green Acres theme song on guitar before leading the band off stage.
While I doubt anyone would have been let down had the show ended at this point, much to my surprise, after about a five-minute wait and DJ Rashida playing music over the PA, Prince and his entire band came back out for an encore of 1981's "Controversy." That got the crowd dancing more than any song of the night.
Any Prince fan new or old knows that you really never know what you're going to get with him, and while for some that might be somewhat frustrating (and expensive), to me that is exactly what makes him such an exciting and dynamic force of nature musically. It's easy to try and write him off based on his commercial output the last 10-15 years, but the fact remains, he is and likely always will be, one of the most entertaining and purely musical performers in American music history.
Ain't Nobody (Chaka Khan)->Days of Wild
Chapter and Verse? (new song?)
Lost & Found (Lianne La Havas cover, sung by 3 female backup singers)
Nothing Compares 2 U (duet with Shelby J)
Act of God->What Have You Done For Me Lately ->Which Way Is Up?->Green Acres theme
Update: Here's audio of "Chapter & Verse"
Overheard: Not much surprisingly... the crowd was insanely polite yet still incredibly excited and engaged.
The Crowd: Not quite as diverse as Prince shows tend to be, but still a fairly wide age range as well as people dressed in plaid pants to many dressed to the nines.
Personal Bias: I've been extremely fortunate to have seen a number of Paisley Park after party and jam session shows around '99-00 when I first moved from Montana, as well as a half dozen or so proper shows ranging from First Ave to Xcel. And while I'd be lying if I said tonight was the best I've ever seen Prince play by any means, it was certainly one of the most memorable and enjoyable that I can recall and worth every penny.