On Friday, Andre Cymone and Dez Dickerson, original members of Princeâ€™s band took the stage at Auditorium Shores to pay tribute to their lifelong friend. They were joined by an extensive ensemble that included rapper Wyclef Jean on congas and guitar, but oddly, not vocals. Guitarist Micki Free, best known for his work with the disco funk band Shalamar, was also a featured player. Â Â
The band opened with â€śLetâ€™s Go Crazy,â€ť altering the â€śDearly belovedâ€ť intro to note we were gathered to pay tribute to Prince. Then, they blazed through a solid hour long set that included many of his most iconic hits like â€śControversy,â€ť â€śWhen You Were Mineâ€ť and â€śLittle Red Corvette.â€ť
For the most part the mood was celebratory and the crowd was enthusiastic, but at one point, Cymone, who became best friends with Prince in seventh grade, choked up a bit. â€śItâ€™s hard for me to talk about Prince,â€ť he said. â€śI bought this guy his first guitar.â€ť As a teenager Prince left home and ended up living in Cymoneâ€™s basement. The two came of age as musicians together, and Prince was still camped out in the basement when he signed his first record deal.
PHOTOS:Â Prince tribute show with Wyclef Jean, Revolution members on Friday, March 17
The band closed their set the only way they could, with an emotional rendition of â€śPurple Rain.â€ť Cell phone lights swayed in the air and Dickerson, Free and Jean all took turns on Princeâ€™s epic guitar solo.
As they left the stage the crowd cheered wildly. Many audience members, confused by Jeanâ€™s absence on the mic, chanted the rapperâ€™s name. The group returned to the stage and finally Wyclef did spit, a good 20 bars or so. He called out the president, freestyling impressively, in English, Spanish and French. Then the band played â€ś1999.â€ť
Obviously, Cymone and Dickerson have a deep understanding of Princeâ€™s music and the covers they played were faithfully rendered, but Jeanâ€™s lack of mic time was hard to understand. Sure, heâ€™s also a skilled instrumentalist who was an excellent support player, but any audience members who came reasonably expecting to hear his spin on at least one Prince song left disappointed.
UPDATE: Wyclef says he didnâ€™t come to spit, he came to play.
@deborific I didn't come to spit. I came to play
â€” Wyclef Jean (@wyclef) March 18, 2017]]