Music Park: Prince + 3rdeyegirl @ Warner Theatre — 6/14/15

Prince-DC2
Prince jams at the Warner Theatre on June 14. (Photo by Karrah Kobus / NPG Records)

Hey, we all agree: Prince is awesome. He’s funky, and he rocks the house in live performance. And he did as much in two sold-out shows at the Warner Theatre on Sunday as part of his series in the Hit & Run tour.

And so, yes, we’re going to talk a little about Prince. But Prince wants us to talk a bit about his backing band, 3rdeyegirl. So let’s talk about them first.

I actually first attended the Rally 4 Peace at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore on Sunday, May 10, and then I caught the late 11pm show at Warner Theatre this past Sunday, June 14.

In both performances, 3rdeyegirl were really quite great. They add fire to the overall show, and they hold down specific numbers on their own. Guitarist Donna Grantis often takes the front of the stage, literally leaping into action as she thunders away on her guitar. She did as much for the opening number Sunday night — “Plectrumelectrum,” the title track from their 2014 debut album with Prince. “Plectrumelectrum” is an instrumental track that gives the audience a chance to see 3rdeyegirl in action as the band gets warmed up. Donna is always in the minute, and her axe is really sharp.

Prince-DC1
Prince flanked by Donna Grantis and Ida Kristine Nielsen at the Warner Theatre on June 14.
(Photo by Karrah Kobus / NPG Records)

Seated in the back of a large stage setup, drummer Hannah Welton didn’t get as much attention as she deserved, but she rolled straight through more than two hours of performance in the late show Sunday. Hannah certainly keeps moving, and she does an amazing job of setting the pace for the rest of the band, which included up to eight other musicians at times in addition to Prince and 3rdeyegirl. Given the emphasis on percussive grooves in many Prince songs, Hannah was a delight for both Prince and the audience for not only getting the songs right but elevating them quite a bit.

Prince-DC4
Hannah Welton on the drums at the Warner Theatre on June 14. (Photo by Karrah Kobus / NPG Records)

And bassist Ida Kristine Nielsen complemented Hannah in the rhythm section, always working well with her bandmates. The accomplished Dane put her entire soul into her performance, and that was most evident as she teared up with emotion during a surprise performance of “Superstition” by Stevie Wonder in the latter half of the show. Ida Kristine sounded wonderful, but she captured our hearts with the sheer joy she brought to performing alongside the legendary Mr. Wonder.

So yes, Stevie Wonder. Those of us at the late show received the surprise guest with rapturous applause. (And the early 8pm show missed out, I’m afraid.) Stevie actually snuck onto stage to take over keyboards at some point, perhaps around the time of “Controversy,” the title track to the amazing Prince album from 1981. Prince also performed “Controversy” (and many, many other hits) in Baltimore — but dammit, it’s not the same when you have Stevie Wonder sitting in on keyboards for you.

Stevie stayed on stage for the strongest segment of Sunday’s late show, rolling from “Controversy” to “1999” to “Little Red Corvette.” Prince himself was full of delicious swagger, and the audience ate it up. The man often took center stage during his performances, dancing up a funky two-step or thrashing away on his guitar while strident before his microphone. He was in good form, and he sounded fantastic and looked as fit as hell.

We at ParklifeDC were particularly pleased that our favorite lady Yasmin was called upon from our perch in the front row to sing along with Prince to “Raspberry Beret,” one of our favorite Prince songs ever, and then dance on stage with him and others for the next song or two.

Prince-DC5
Prince gets soulful at the Warner Theatre on June 14. (Photo by Karrah Kobus / NPG Records)

Prince gave Stevie a proper introduction in the encore, which included a number of Stevie Wonder covers. Well, those covers began with “Superstition,” which was really just Stevie performing “Superstition” while everyone else sang and performed it with him, so it would be a bit of a misnomer to call it a cover. As the encore progresses, we also happily dance away to more of Stevie’s songs — “I Wish,” “Living for the City,” and “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours.”

The final song of the night, however, is 100 percent Prince. The man from Minneapolis rendered a long and very psychedelic take on “Purple Rain,” during which he jammed out solo for a spell. The incredibly satisfied audience cheered him mightily and sang along to the heartfelt ballad, which Prince made as fresh as if it were only released yesterday.

Take a bow, Prince and 3rdeyegirl. You put all of yourselves into an absolutely tremendous show, which we would gladly see again and again. At this point, we would urge you to see them when they perform near you, but we don’t know when that will be! The nature of the Hit & Run tour is such that Prince announces the shows only a day or two before they go on sale, and then the concert occurs only a few days after that! So keep your eyes peeled perhaps if he hasn’t been to your city, and there’s a large concert space suspiciously empty on a prize performance night?

Prince and 3rdeyegirl’s setlist for 11pm show on Sunday, June 14 (from Setlist.com):

Guitar
(w/ Zeppelin “The Ocean”)
Plectrum Electrum
Let’s Go Crazy
Take Me With U
Raspberry Beret
U Got the Look
Shake!
Cool
(The Time cover)
Sampler Set 1
When Doves Cry
Nasty Girl
(Vanity 6 cover)
777-9311
(The Time cover)
Hot Thing
Housequake
U Know
The Screams of Passion
(The Family cover)
Pop Life
Forever in My Life
Controversy
(w/Stevie Wonder – keyboards)
1999
(w/Stevie Wonder – keyboards)
Little Red Corvette
(w/Stevie Wonder – keyboards)
Nothing Compares 2 U
Kiss

Encore:
As Trains Go By
(Judith Hill cover)
Mountains
The Dance Electric
(André Cymone cover)
Superstition
(Stevie Wonder cover) (w/Stevie Wonder)
I Wish
(Stevie Wonder cover) (w/Stevie Wonder)
Living for the City
(Stevie Wonder cover) (w/Stevie Wonder)
Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)
(Sly & The Family Stone cover) (w/Stevie Wonder)
Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours
(Stevie Wonder cover) (w/Stevie Wonder)
Purple Rain

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.