Footage and a review of a Prince show from last week suggest that his appearance at Essence this year could be epic.
Prince isn't on tour, but that hasn't stopped him from playing one-off shows like the 2 1/2-hour jam he played last Friday night at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Backed by a 20-piece version of the New Power Generation that included horns, he played material from the breadth of his career, favoring deep cuts over hits until he got to the encore. According to Rolling Stone's Alan Light:
In presenting the latest manifestations of both his funk and rock sides, Prince demonstrated that he is as much a virtuoso bandleader as he is a guitarist. Working with eleven horn players, he can arrange and conduct a true big band like a modern-day Duke Ellington, with musicians so drilled and disciplined that he can stop them all on a dime or call for solos on the spot. Indeed, sometimes it felt like he was giving too much stage time to the band and the back-up singers, but at this stage in a legendary career, the expanded line-up offers Prince a whole new palette to paint with.
Prince will headline the 20th anniversary of the Essence Music Festival this July 4 weekend, and we can only hope he brings guitar solos like this one from one of the three Mohegan Sun Arena shows. Weekend tickets are on sale now.
You can also see more recent Prince videos at his 3rd Eye Girl YouTube channel, named for the all-woman rock band that also plays with him in his concerts these days.