The officially sanctioned Prince tribute concert took place at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul last night, as the good people of Minnesota gathered once more to bid farewell to their funkiest native son. (No offense to Messrs. Zimmerman and Westerberg.) Opening with a surprise tribute from President Obama, who appeared over video to say, “thank you, Prince, for all the great works you have done. You will be in our hearts forever.”
Following President Obama were two 10-minute sets from perennial purple bridesmaids Mint Condition and Morris Day and the Time, after which The New Power Generation—Prince’s second most recent backup band, before 3rdeyegirl—took the stage. The band alternated between backing up singers like Tori Kelly, Doug E. Fresh, Bilal, and recent addition Jessie J (who took over for Christina Aguilera) and fronting numbers like “Uptown,” “Computer Blue,” “Erotic City,” and “Musicology” with the help of longtime Prince collaborator André Cymone.
45 of Prince’s songs were covered in total, and the evening reportedly contained plenty of appropriately weird moments, like Prince’s ex-wife Mayte Garcia taking the stage in a leopard-print bikini top and bearing a sword to do a belly dance in honor of her late spouse. But the overwhelming popular favorites seem to have been Stevie Wonder and Chaka Khan, musical legends in their own right who took to the stage to perform “1999” and “I Feel For You” with Wonder on harmonica before closing out the evening with ”Purple Rain.”
“I will miss him forever,” an emotional Wonder said. “We talked about so much, he had so many plans just to make the world a better place to live in.” He added, “As much as you loved him, he loved you even more.” You can see Instagram video of Khan and Wonder performing “1999” below.