Prince at the New Morning in Paris? A recurring joke… except that with the Kid, it’s never a joke. Remember June 87. On the night of July 22 to 23, 2010, 3h30 of an ecstatic show for 500 crazy Parisians! Nicolas Saada and RKK were there: night slices!
The rumor has been circulating since Wednesday 21, Prince is going to perform at the New Morning, he announced it on his Facebook! The text messages shake the Parisian torpor. His Geneva concert during his European tour was canceled, between Arras and Nice. And his new album, “Future Soul Song”, was released on Wednesday with Le Courrier International. News, what!? Christine Badier, the site’s programmer, negotiated with the Prince team.
This Thursday, on July 22nd, a soul legend is on the cover, Booker T, yes, the organist of the MG’s, the accompanist of Otis Redding, the producer of Bill Withers. Inside, it’s calm, almost intimate, outside, the line spreads out on rue des Petites Ecuries.
Yes, since 5 p.m., we have been queuing for Prince, announced for after (or even well after) midnight, single price, 80€. The rumor says Erikah Badu would be the muse of a Prince after his evening concert at the Olympia.
Inside, Booker T and his renewed MG’s (without Steve Cropper, the guitarist at the time) chain the hits of the Stax period, “Hip Hug Her”, “Green Onions”. Almost cushy. Outside, it swells, it rumbles. Maximum excitement.
End of the Booker T concert, it’s 11:30 p.m., the room is emptied, and a few smart guys try to make themselves small, without success. Change of set, the technicians hurry… slowly. Time flies, in the street, we push against the closed doors, and the crowd forces itself to scream, feeling that the outcome is near. The artists arrive, the musicians of Miss Badu, those of Prince (rhythm, 2 keyboards, 2 singers) and finally Prince himself, the hometown air…
2 hours passed, and finally, the doors opened, everyone has the 80€ cash in hand. The first ones (who waited more than eight hours!) gather in front of the stage. The expectation is more than rewarded. On the other hand, a good hundred people will remain outside. Inside it is the New Morning of the BIG days, Eglal Fahri, the one who has been at the helm of the New Morning for 29 years, and who, to preserve her 88 springs, comes more rarely to the club, moved this evening. She is enthroned on a bar stool, radiant, a cup in her hand…
Prince appears in black… almost in the dark (the stage will remain very dimly lit, probably to prevent the concert from being posted on youtube the next day). An instrumental, “Stratus”, a good quarter of an hour as an appetizer. Then a female voice emerges. On top of the moment… When you’re at the bottom, you’re sure it’s “la” Badu. In fact, she remains in the audience and will soon disappear, and it is Prince’s No. 1 backing vocalist, Shelby J, who offers us a sulfurous version of “Brown Skin” by India Arie followed by ” I never loved a man the way I love you” by Aretha Franklin, churchy as hell. And, a little later, she returns for a “Que sera”, yes, the fifties ballad of Doris Day vitaminized by Sly & The Family Stone. Prince has the banana of the great days, passes from the piano to the guitar, and even the bass (he slaps in homage to Larry Graham, recently his guest in Arras).
It’s already 4 am and we think it was a very nice concert. Impeccable covers of Sly Stone (“Everyday People”, “I Want To Take You Higher”), gospels worthy of a church in the southern United States, it ends in “Controversy”. Although… we are not at the end of our surprises: Prince returns, one, two, and three times. It goes from the intimacy of a mini piano concert to the madness of a super funky “Cream”. Not to mention a virtuoso sequence between the Stones’ “Miss You” and “Kiss”. Then the medley “Please, Please, Please” + “How come you don’t call me anymore”.
After a jam that sounds like a BIG finale, he reappears, for a… sixth encore! We recognize the first chord: “Purple Rain”. But he changes the chorus to “New Morning”, the artist’s tribute to the hall which has shaped his legend as an outstanding musician, surpassing all frameworks and all genres. We have our Duke…his name is Prince. His Cotton Club is the New Morning. 23 years after the mythical concert of the “Sign of the times” tour, it is no longer just the charm that operates, but the evidence that this virtuoso artist is what music has given us most beautiful, most innovative. and funkier for thirty years.
July 23, 2010, 6:05 a.m., it is daylight in rue des Petites Ecuries. We are bewildered. For a long time.