Arguably, virtuosity alone would have been close enough for jazz, but the brilliant New Power Generation also gave us room-shaking volume, commitment and energy in this memorable powerhouse show.
Having left the stage to stomp-fuelled chants of “one more tune” still echoing in their ears, NPG’s collective cores will be shaking as they return to daily routines, their feet in Minneapolis, their hearts in Ireland. Few gigs will ring longer or louder than NPG at Cork Opera House.
“I have had a really great time here tonight, it’s so good to be here,” said Morris Hayes, NPG’s musical director, keyboard player and one of Prince’s favourite producers and collaborators. “If you want NPG to come back to Cork, just tell everyone about us. Do you want us to come back?”
Alright so, do yeah, the walls rattled, just as they rattled for all the hits: Girls & Boys, Cream, Sign O’ The Times, 1999, Let’s Go Crazy, Gett Off, Sexy MF and, of course, When Doves Cry and Purple Rain.
Morris introduced the other band members. Guitarist and rapper Tony M was with Prince for the Diamonds and Pearls show in RDS, Dublin, in 1992. Eardrum-busting roars for Tony M.
Volleys of approval also greeted Hayes introducing the brilliant Mike Scott on lead guitar, Keith Anderson on saxophone, and Chaka Khan drummer Chris Bailey.
Star of the show was lead singer Mackenzie. An amazing vocalist and captivating dancer, he also has an incredible rapport with the audience.
Mackenzie may be singing Prince’s repertoire, and doing so with deep love and respect: “Prince was better at everything than all of us; a better singer, better dancer, better on the guitar, better looking.” Well played, Mackenzie, but you’re very much a star in your own right.
And NPG is not a tribute act. NPG has its own power and camaraderie. It really is a magic band, a true band of magicians. Morris Hayes is a wizard. And Mackenzie has us under his spell.
Still, a bit like a Man United line-up minus Cristiano Ronaldo, you can’t help but look longingly towards the subs’ bench. What would Prince himself have made of this show?
As a dedicated Prince fan and one of the thousands disappointed by Prince’s disjointed Páirc Ui Chaoimh show in 1990, I’d imagine the Purple One would thank NPG not just for keeping his legacy alive, but for repaying a debt owed. Arguably.