A bitter cold draped “Salute to Prince” night at Super Bowl Live in downtown Minneapolis on Monday evening. It was cold enough that the singers seemed unable to perform without mentioning the dire weather. But even with the frigid four-degree temperature steadily dropping into the night, the cold couldn’t stop attendees from dancing and reminiscing.
Swarming the capacity of three corners, people came from all directions to enjoy the free concert and pay tribute to Prince. A DJ greeted the early arrivers with such Prince hits as “Get Off,” and conducted a sing along to “Diamonds and Pearls.” An artistic rendering of the late Minnesota icon appeared on the backdrop of a building on 8th Street and Nicollet.
Sheila E., the night’s first performer, paid tribute to the Purple One, as well as her own material. As a multi-instrumentalist, Sheila E. performed hits “The Glamorous Life” and “A Love Bizarre” while playing drums and rocking out on guitar.
Marisa Pringles, along with her mother, were among the attendees at the show. “This is a once in a lifetime thing, experiencing the Super Bowl,” said Pringles. “So, why not enjoy a free concert with Sheila E. honoring Prince and his legacy that he left here in Minneapolis?!” Pringles fondly recalled attending Prince’s Purple Rain tour while living in Chicago.
Hit-making producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Minnesota Music Ambassadors for the Super Bowl Live concert series and original members of The Time, referenced Sunday night’s Grammy Awards show where Bruno Mars, who won six awards, paid homage to Prince. While on stage, Jam and Lewis said if it weren’t for Prince, they wouldn’t be who they are.
Sheila E. and Morris Day and the Time joined together in a beautiful rendition of Prince’s “America,” holding true to its 80s style of rock-funk. Day hit the stage in a long white coat and proceeded with The Time’s signature song “Jungle Love,” keeping the crowd warm moving and grooving. Flailing arms continued with the song “The Bird” and the crowd got another work out with the classic “Cool” as they joined in spelling out the words with their hands.
Prince’s former band The Revolution electrified the stage with “1999,” a song that predicted the end of the world come 2000. We made it through that year but continued to party like its 1999, as guitarist Wendy Melvoin led the band beyond the city’s 10 pm curfew, rocking well into the night.
Couples pranced around during “I Would Die 4 U” and arms swayed in the air when Prince’s signature “Purple Rain” started playing. A host of other songs rocked the night away, including “Mountains” and “Baby I’m a Star.”
Many sound issues plagued the night with speakers funneling the music in and out throughout the evening. When asked about attending Prince concerts during his lifetime, attendee Mary Terrell had fond memories. Her voice softened as she said, “I’ve been to a lot of Prince concerts; I took my daughter to her first concert [to see Prince] at the Xcel Energy Center for one of her birthdays.”
Super Bowl Live is set to host more free Prince-related acts throughout the week, with his 2000-era band members, The New Power Generation (The NPG), Andre Cymone and New Power Soul slated to perform on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. Justin Timberlake, the Super Bowl half-time act, is also hosting a ticketed listening event at Paisley Park.
Go to www.mnsuperbowl.com for more shows and festivities around town.
Jonika Stowes welcomes reader responses to firstname.lastname@example.org.
See more photos from Steve Floyd below.