June 7, 2017, marked what would have been the fifty-eighth birthday for one of the world’s most iconic music figures, Prince. A year after his passing, many of his fans are still in mourning. However, on Wednesday night, the spirit of Prince was alive & well with The Prince Tribute Show: A All-Star Purple Party at the Bethesda Blues & Jazz Club. Walking into the venue, the D.J. played songs from Prince’s massive catalog. At the same time, the jumbo Tron displayed photos of Prince’s emerging fashion sense over the years.
Led by D.C. native and former E.U. member Junie Henderson as Prince, it was a fun-filled night that paid homage to one of music’s goats. Henderson sang and dressed liked Prince, but he also respected who Prince was as an artist. Henderson is immensely talented and highlighted both appreciation and admiration for Prince. The rest of the band includes numerous members of established bands from the D.C. area, including “The Grainger’s” and members of “In Gratitude.”
The band opened up with “Let’s Go Crazy,” which even the most casual music fan knows the opening lines to. With the band jamming out on stage, the audience was treated to the eighties classic “Purple Rain” playing on the jumbo Tron. After a significant opening number, the band transitioned into the fan-favorite B-Side “She’s Always in My Hair.”
As Prince, Henderson displayed a natural sound that, while not note for note matched Prince, was good in its own right, as this was a tribute show. While I love Prince’s up-tempo catalog, I have always been more partial to Prince’s ballads as a fan. Early into the night, the band covered two of my favorite Prince songs and arguably two of the best ballads of the eighties. As soon as I heard, the opening chords of “Do Me Baby,” my night had already been made. After seducing the female fans in the audience, we were treated to “Adore” and the closing first set with “Kiss” & “1999”.
After a lengthy intermission, which killed a little of the momentum for me, the band returned to the stage. However, it quickly picked up, as the musicians in the band were given their time to shine. D.C. native Mike Scott, who has toured with the likes of New Edition, Bruno Mars, Justin Timberlake, was up first. Where he displayed fantastic guitar skills on “Pop Life,” “Darling Nikki,” and “I Feel for You.”
Before closing out the night, Henderson took requests from the audience and asked them what they wanted to hear. The six-song medley was a treat for any Prince fan, as Henderson sang snippets of “Housequake,” “Get Loose,” “Computer Blue,” and other fan favorites. The night then ended with an emotional rendition of “Purple Rain.”
Every music fan has a bucket list of artists that they would like to see LIVE before they die. Prince is the one artist who remained at the top of my bucket list until his untimely passing. While the All-Star Purple Party did not touch on everything in Prince’s massive catalog, the band did remind the audience why we fell in love with Prince, to begin with.
Final Grade B+