Settimana scorsa l’occasione è stata quella dello show privato per l’amica Madonna (qui) che si trovava a Minneapolis con il suo Rebel Heart Tour. Questa settimana invece le serate, o per meglio dire le nottate in musica alla Paisley Park presentate come le AfterDark, sono state due. La prima per festeggiare la squadra femminile del Minnesota Lynx vincitrice del campionato WNBA. La seconda venerdì notte, con la quale Prince ha voluto celebrare la pubblicazione di Back In Time l’album d’esordio di Judith Hill e la sua prima esibizione televisiva al Late Show di Stephen Colbert. (potete vederla qui)
Quello che accomuna tutte e tre le serate sono i musicisti che hanno accompagnato Prince. C’era Kirk Johnson alla batteria, Donna Grantis alla chitarra e MonoNeon al basso. L’impressione percepita è che Prince, tra l’altro visto in gran forma, sia in continua sperimentazione e rehearsal per futuri spettacoli dal vivo. Lo stesso MonoNeo, nuovo personaggio che gravita nella band di Prince, ha dichiarato di aver passato giorni interi a provare negli studi della Paisley Park. Altra cosa da far notare è che per il concerto delle Minnesota Lynx, ma soprattutto in quello dove presenziava Madonna, le canzoni proposte non sono state le solite hit. Una buona parte erano brani presi dagli ultimi album. Segnale in più che qualcosa bolle in pentola. Incrociamo le dita.
Queste le due setlist e a seguire due articoli presi da Startribune.com dove il giornalista Jon Bream racconta i due concerti
15 October, 2015 – Paisley Park Studios
Let’s Go Crazy
When Doves Cry
Sign O’ The Times
1000 X’s & O’s
Use Me / Yes We Can Can
Shut This Down
You Got The Love
The Gold Standard
If I Was Your Girlfriend
16 October, 2015 – Paisley Park Studios
You Got The Love / As Trains Go By
Let’s Go Crazy
Prince throws 3-hour concert/party for champion Lynx at Paisley Park
Last week, Twitter and the Internet lit up when Prince serenaded Madonna at Paisley Park after her Xcel Energy Center concert. Much ado was made about two superstars in the same room even though Madonna left after five songs and Prince played on for a few dozen people.
Sorry Madge. Prince trumped that Wednesday night at Paisley Park. He performed and partied with a roomful of superstars and World Champions – the Minnesota Lynx WNBA champs — for three hours (no doubt, one hour for each of the Lynx’s championships). Maya Moore, Seimone Augustus, MVP Sylvia Fowles and others.
The championship series went a hard-fought five games and Prince, who attended the decisive game Wednesday at Target Center, responded with one of the longest and most joyful performances at Paisley Park in years.
Prince started the party with “Purple Rain” shortly after 12:30 a.m. even though the champs hadn’t arrived yet. Within a few hits including “Let’s Go Crazy,” he was showing his respect, congratulating the Lynx “on a job well done.” On the two video screens in the NPG Music Club, a newly made slide featured the Lynx logo and the words “2015 WNBA Champions.”
The players arrived in time, causing the invite-only crowd of Lynx staffers and Target Center personnel to grow to maybe 150. Augustus wore an orange championship ballcap when she joined dancing machine guard Renee Montgomery onstage. Prince invited several of the players onstage to dance – and Montgomery proved to be as impressive on the dancefloor as she was on the court.
Lynx assistant coach Jim Petersen, the former Gopher and NBA player and the tallest person in the room at 6 foot 11, camped right in front of the stage, chomping on an unlit victory cigar and blocking the view of the diminutive Prince, who did not invite any of the Lynx to play hoops with him at Paisley.
Moore and Fowles showed their moves in a spontaneous line dance that enabled them to see around Peterson.
Playing guitar and keyboards (and even a drum solo at one point), Prince led a band that featured his usual guitarist, Donna Grantis, but not his usual rhythm section from 3rdEyeGirl. Kirk Johnson, a former NPG drummer, was behind the kit and Mono Neon manned the bass. Backup singers Liv Warfield and Ashley Minnieweather, and keyboardist Josh Welton joined in occasionally.
The lengthy opening set was heavy on hits including “Kiss,” “When Doves Cry,” “Sign ‘o’ the Times,” “Guitar” (with a great exchange between Grantis and Prince on guitar),“Hot Thang” (“hot thang, world champs,” he sang) and a mashup of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” and the Time’s “Cool.” At one point, Warfield and Minnieweather broke into their own funky refrain of “we are the champions.”
There was one newer song, “1,000 X’s and O’s” from Prince’s new “HitNRun” album, which was the night’s slow dance. Prince also mixed in a gospel treatment of Bill Withers’ “Use Me” and the Allen Toussaint-penned Pointer Sisters classic “Yes We Can Can,” sung by Warfield and Minnieweather.
After two hours of nonstop music, the Lynx were knocked out.
“I didn’t expect this party,” Moore said.
What did she think of the performance?
Of course, the Lynx didn’t realize it was just halftime.
After 25 minutes of disc spinning from DJ Mike, Prince and his band returned for another set that could best be described as a loud jam. Prince started with the raucous “Shut This Down” and “X’s Face,” both from his September “HitNRun” release, and it didn’t seem to matter to him that there were only about 35 people in the audience.
Prince admitted to the faithful that “we’re just jamming,” and he had an improvised soulful and sexy exchange with Minnieweather. But that was topped by Minnieweather and Warfield doing a slow jam treatment of Rufus’ “You Got the Love” that was super S-E-X-Y.
Despite his jam mentality, Prince mustered a couple more actual songs, including “Alphabet Street,” which seemed like the finale as his musicians started to exit, and then “Gold Standard” with a little tease of “If I Were Your Girlfriend.”
It was three minutes before 4 a.m. Prince, the party man in black with a black stocking cap, bowed, walked off the stage and headed into the crowd. When he got into the middle of the dancefloor, he feigned like he was going to fall over from exhaustion. He steadied himself and marched off like a champion.
Night 2 at Paisley Park: Prince’s rehearsal offers fans a look behind the Purple curtain
And on Night 2 at Paisley Park, Prince invited the public, saluted the WNBA champion Lynx in conversation and declared this last-minute $50-a-ticket performance a rehearsal.
He put the same band he had for Wednesday’s 3-hour Lynx victory party through its paces for 100 minutes late Thursday night running through songs, working out arrangements with instructions and just jamming — till 3:05 in the morning.
“Y’all mind if we do a rehearsal right now?” the Purple One told the sparse crowd of about 35 people after Liv Warfield and Ashley Minnieweather sang “You Got the Love,” which was faster than Wednesday’s slow-jam reading but still not as up-tempo as Chaka Khan’s original version. “That way we don’t have to get up at 9 in the morning.”
Indeed, Prince was in a playful mood. At one point, he asked how many people had been at Paisley for the Lynx celebration the night before. Um, about two of us. “Those girls not only play basketball, but they dance,” he declared. “See all those scuff marks onstage.”
They were from Madonna, a fan shouted, referring to Madge’s appearance at Paisley to see Prince the week before.
“We cleaned them up from last week,” the Paisley potentate explained. “These are new scuff marks.”
Thursday was actually an unusual occurrence in Prince’s world in that he invited fans to a rehearsal – an intimate opportunity to see his working process in the NPG Music Club room at Paisley Park.
Wearing a striped yellow, red and black stocking cap with a matching top, Prince was accompanied by a revamped group – guitarist Donna Grantis from 3rdEyeGirl, drummer Kirk Johnson who used to be in the New Power Generation, bassist Mono Neon and the two aforementioned backup singers.
Take their treatment of “Purple Rain,” for example.
Prince started the song on electric piano, with a light churchy touch. After he ran through a verse, a chorus and some whew-whews, he called “background,” meaning the singers should do the whew-whews.
“That’s your part, ready?” They sang and he reacted with a “whoa!” He asked them to do it again. “Don’t start looking at each other,” he urged. “C’mon.”
He liked what they did and declared “yeah. One more time.” Then he played the famous “Purple Rain” guitar solo on piano, with a pronounced gospel tinge.
When he finished, he announced: “We’re going to take an offering right now.”
Sometimes the band just jammed. And Prince explained what they were trying to do in a cryptic way.
“We keep messing around with it till we can yank the guts out of it,” he told the fans. “Till we can find out where the funk is.”
He’d call out for a bass solo, a drum solo or horns (which were synthesized – not like at a true gig where he insists on real instruments played by musicians).
He’d call for a new song. Or ask a singer if it was the right key for her.
At one point, he went over to Grantis and demonstrated a riff on her guitar so she would know how he wanted it.
She didn’t need any tips during their jam on “Guitar,” a strutting rocker that sounded like a mashup of the Stones, the Who and the New York Dolls. It was part of the second half of Thursday’s session, which featured some ferocious guitar fireworks by Prince and Grantis on heavy funk-rock workouts.
At other times, things were subtle. On one jam, Prince on piano playfully traded licks with drummer Johnson, even boiling it down to single-note exchanges.
What was clear from this public rehearsal is that the maestro has strong feelings about arrangements but obviously respects his colleagues enough to let their instincts and artistry surface. Even if the stage was dark (lit only by rope lighting in the bass drum), this was a rare and illuminating peek behind the Purple curtain.