Devoted fans of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicities descended upon Baltimore on Mother’s Day for Prince’s “Rally 4 Peace” concert at Royal Farms Arena. In true Prince fashion, the concert was announced with barely a weeks’ notice and minimal promotion, but I’m “talkin’ ‘bout Prince” and you can dig it! Everyone wore one of fifty shades of “gray” as Prince requested while other rocked purple gear, Prince tattooes and a leftover Easter suit or two. As Prince says in “Uptown,” (it was) Black, White, Puerto Rican, everybody just a freakin’, good times were rollin’” and everybody got along.
The fact that Prince had not performed in Baltimore since 2001 overshadowed the fact that many felt the event was a much-needed and appropriate beginning of a time of healing for a city in turmoil that has played out on a global stage since the death (some say murder) of Freddie Gray.
While Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was visible absent, Baltimore’s State’s Attorney Marilyn J. Mosby and husband Councilman Nick Mosby, long time Prince fans made a brief, yet clearly uncomfortable appearance on stage shortly after Prince began to perform his near three hour set.
In a previously released statement, Prince had said he wanted the concert to be a “catalyst for pause and reflection following the outpouring of violence that has gripped Baltimore and areas throughout the U.S.”
The concert featured the female band, 3RDEYEGIRL, who are tighter than a James Brown snatch back and special musical guests in Judith Hill (The Voice), rapper/entertainer Doug E. Fresh, who beat boxed to Prince on the bass, R&B singers Estelle (we’ll give her an “E” for her effort with Purple Rain before Prince took over and slayed) and Miguel(When Will We Be Paid). We’ll attribute their performance to their being in awe of being in the presence of Prince and the moment of the movement. Prince did not disappoint delivering throwback classics and fan favorites with hits, from “Controversy,” When Doves Cry” an “Little “Take Me With You” to songs he’s written for others such as The Time’s “Cool, “Andre’ Cymone’s “Dance Electric, “Vanity 6’s “Nasty Girl” and put his foot in Michael Jackson’s “ Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.” Other celebrities in the building but behind the scenes included Alicia Keyes, Bill Bellamy and QuestLove. Much love and respect was also show to the family of Michael Brown and Freddie Gray who posed for photos with Jay and Bey.
The first hour of the show was offered for free online compliments of Jay-Z’s Tidal, who committed to match money donated through its website to the “Baltimore Justice Fund.” That fund, created by the Open Society Institute-Baltimore, says its mission is to improve police accountability and increase racial justice for a fight that is far from over. Activists and protesters outside of the concert venue made sure to remind concert goers that this battle is not over in Baltimore and cities across the U.S.
With concert tickets costing between $22 and $497 before fees, it had not been clearly determined will be the beneficiaries or to which charities the funds will go.
Prince interspersed songs with commentary such as “To those who have lost loved one, we are your servants tonight, we’re here for you. They said there wasn’t no curfew, so I don’t know how this is gonna go,” Prince said. (Five on it to the city for extending its light rail hours.).
For all of the joy, love and happiness that occurred on Sunday, Prince said it best and served up major food for thought when he said “The system is broken. It’s going to take the young people to fix it this time. We need new ideas, new life.”…..(drop the mic and exit stage left)
Industry vet and die hard Prince Fan,”Kuti” Mack shared his Top 5 “Mack” moments from the Prince concert.
- Prince danced like the Prince we have known and loved for years. At almost 57 years of age, he owned the stage in a tee shirt and sneakers (no heels) and no evidence of any hip issues.
- Prince’s swag was on full tilt. He was gracious and humble. He stopped the show to talk to the people a few times. The best quote was “We need “piece” to own a piece (of the city via minority owned business)
- Although the ticket prices ranged from $22-$497, even the midrange tickets were not nose bleed seats. Some of the $22 ticket holders got the chance to join Prince on stage. There was no jumbo-tron so Prince acknowledged everyone. Whatever price you paid, it was money well spent.
- It was an absolute highlight when the band left the stage, Prince sat and the piano and commanded the attention of everyone form the 60 year old hippie to the most thugged out brother.
- The “Baltimore” song sounds good in the recorded form but sounds ten times better live!!
Bonus Buzz: Mack says “the vibe that permeated the entire evening was infectious, very special & significant. It was a family reunion, a college reunion, teachable moment and a movement where everyone was on one accord. No doubt May 10, 2015, is a highlight of my life.”