4U: A Symphonic Celebration of Prince + Morris Day gets funky at the State Fair of Texas & more

Questlove curates a touring symphony of Prince music from our fave era + our man Morris Day is still funky & more.

 

Morris Day & The Time - September 29th - State Fair of Texas - Dallas, TX 

Opening Day of the State Fair of Texas that falls on one of the largest social & sporting events on the African-American calendar around these parts is Grambing vs PVC Football Game. They couldn't have booked anyone funkier for the occasion. Ladies & Gentlemen: Morris Day & The Time!

Now let's be clear, Morris & the gang are the epitome of an oldies act, still touring, doing hundreds of shows a year every year without really putting out any new music or changing up the show really, just doing their thing, for as long as they can & after over 30 years Morris Day & the Time will be doing this for as long as they want in this capacity. 
The cool thing (pun intended) about Morris is that he really doesn't have to - No one in this crowd or those that come see him are bored or tired of his gigalo schtick - that's exactly what they've come for! And he gives it to them, and does it well everytime. 
 

The Time isn't really as much of what they were, but still have a strong band behind him. Consisting of original members besides Morris are just Monte Moir on keyboards & Jellybean Johnson on drums but they still bring weapons grade funk. They have a very capable guy named Padre filling Jerome's role of comic foil & still all there from holding the mirror up to the shimmy dance & everything in between. 
Speaking of dancing, something unforgettable happened as my wife & I were dancing during the show, only one visiably (as far as I could see) wearing a Morris Day & The Time shirt, & clearly being the minorities in this crowd, Padre came out, saw us & invited me up to dance The Bird with the Time!!!


(that's me the corny looking white boy behind Morris there) I immediately grabbed my wife's hand but Padre said they just needed dudes.
When I got up there I could see they had plenty of females & needed some testosterone. For me it was a thrill of a lifetime & Morris turning around & seeing my shirt & me getting down, giving me the double fist bump is a memory I'll always cherish. Much love to this crowd that was digging on the fact that we could all be here together & not only cheering me on, but congratulating me & even helped me re-locate my wife afterwards.

Setlist:

1999 (Prince cover)
Get It Up
Cool
Pandemonium/Chocolate/Wild N Loose/The Stick
Fishnet
The Oak Tree
Jerk Out
777-9311
Girl
Gigolos Get Lonely Too
If the Kid Can't Make You Come 
Condensate
Ice Cream Castles
The Walk/D.M.S.R. (Prince cover)
The Bird
Jungle Love

 


4U: A Symphonic Celebration of Prince - October 17th - Toyota Music Factory - Irving,TX 

Put together by Prince ultra-fan Questlove. As the first symphonic Prince show approved by the artist’s estate, the concert website said, it was not meant to impersonate the artist but to celebrate his “boundless creative output.” 

Questlove makes an announcement at the beginning via recorded video message laying out the evening's proceedings:
Set 1 will be all the deep cuts - an intermission followed by a second set of hits. Cool, let's do this - 

 



Starting off with For You the stage full of musicians showed us we were in for a different experience of these songs. For the first half of the night, no one sang. Instead, we got to focus on the music & a dozen-piece string section riffing away on Controversy. This seemed to confuse and/or disappoint a considerable amount of the audience which was spare by comparison to the size of the venue. It's hard to believe & even easier to forget that they are still fans out there that only know or care about the 1999/Purple Rain era & aren't nerds like us hoping to hear Alexa De Paris.

Cool to see how the arrangements cast each instrument. During Computer Blue, the brass section went crazy, with a saxophone giving a rich and scratchy feel to the vocal line. Muted trombones made Christopher Tracy’s Parade feel as alluring as the character. Having so many instruments helped us lean into the immense scope of Prince’s work, and revisit different moods from all over his career. 

For me personally this was ideal as the Under Cherry Moon period is my absolute favorite & thanks to the brilliance of Claire Fischer & his string arrangements on that LP, they are the songs that lend itself most to this format. I had an idea as well as all of the handbills has the album cover from Parade on them so I was excited to finally be in Prince environment where my favorite album was finally the focus.

Throughout the evening, projections lit the stage with video footage, photos of Prince, and close-ups on scraps of paper: handwritten lyrics and a list of his costume changes glanced over the screen at one point. The effects that hit home most were clips of Prince talking between songs when the stage was dark. 

What this concert did best was keep its promise of never impersonating the artist. Not having vocals for most of the show gave fans some space to use their imaginations & it was fun to look around to see people using their own voices. 

Starting off the second half the orchestra played Take Me With U and the electric fiddle player took up a microphone as she had a few times by now, singing the chorus and asking us to sing with her. She gave us a little extra push to lend our voices to the show without over-powering anything. 

Then the musicians played a beautiful classical-sounding arrangement that was hard to place at first. It sounded like the overture to an opera or the opening credits of a film that didn’t have a date stamp. Then suddenly, they were playing “Purple Rain.” Prince appeared onscreen draped in a sequined cape, and for the first time, the band and orchestra played in time with the recording. As the song gave way to Prince’s final guitar solo, the group quieted down and let him take over. Now having said all that & I definitely enjoyed it & it was well done, but I just don't know where the "official" part comes in. I guess I was looking for the show to have some genuine validation & for all of Prince's estate's approval & Questlove's involvement, it never came off more than a cover band tribute which it needed to do.

Setlist:


For You 
Controversy 
Something in the Water (Does Not Compute) 
Computer Blue 
Automatic 
It Ain’t Over ‘Til The Fat Lady Sings 
Christopher Tracy’s Parade 
New Position 
I Wonder U 
Nothing Compares 2 U 
Under the Cherry Moon 
Alexa De Paris 
The Beautiful Ones 
All My Dreams 
1999 
Let’s Go Crazy 
When Doves Cry 
Little Red Corvette 
Erotic City 
Take Me With U 
Irresistible Bitch 
Raspberry Beret 
Baby I’m a Star 
Purple Rain

 

Photos - 

Roy Turner
Jocelyn Hund
Andrew Bliss

Leave a comment

    Add comment