Laydown, the song with which Prince opened last night’s concert at the closing of the North Sea Jazz Festival

This, it seems, is his latest hit (which I absolutely love, by the way; especially the “From the heart of Minnesota here comes the Purple Yoda” line). When he came on stage and started playing it, I felt I was knocked down. It was like nothing I had experienced before.

The thing is, I’ve been listening to Prince since I was what, 13, maybe? Which is to say he has been a significant contributor to the soundtrack of my life for 25+ years. I am reluctant to say he is my favorite popular artist because yeah, I do not have one favorite artist. My musical tastes change and move around and I listen to a lot of different stuff, so saying I have one single preferred artist would be reductionist. Still, I’d say he has, from the beginning, been in my top 3 or 5 all time favorites.

I have been to more concerts and festivals than I can even remember. I used to have a job that allowed me to see almost every international act touring South America for free (I had to work for it, so the “for free” is debatable, but still). When I moved to Europe, I could no longer attend without paying but, whenever means allowed it, I continued my habit of going to concerts and festivals. And yet, I wasn’t prepared for what Prince delivered last night. I just never, ever, realized what a force he is on stage. I had always perceived his music as a band effort, with him as the charismatic frontman doing the Prince “thing”. Oh was I wrong. So many moments evoked the videos I’ve seen of Jimmy Hendrix or the James Brown concerts I’ve been to. I was amazed at how much from those two artists he drew from (at least last night, which was a concert where he played a lot of jazzy and blues influenced tunes). He also did many of his old hits. And I must confess, when he played 1999, I teared up. Because yeah, popular music is not just popular music, it’s also the way we evoke our own lives and who we were when we first heard those songs.

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