Alicia Keys, George Clinton, ?uestlove and Doug E. Fresh were among the surprise guests to appear onstage with Prince early Wednesday morning at Times Square’s The World nightclub.
Free for members of Prince’s NPG Music Club, $40 for nonmembers, the show began at 2 a.m., a few hours after a full concert uptown at the Lincoln Center.
With bassist Larry Graham (who appeared briefly at the previous show) and saxophonist Candy Dulfer joining most of Prince’s core band – Renato Neto on keys, John Blackwell on drums, Maceo Parker on sax and Greg Boyer on trombone – the freeform funk session began with a Prince oldie, “Joy in Repetition.” As the slow groove morphed seamlessly into funk classics like James Brown’s “Talking Loud and Saying Nothing” and a repeat of “Pass the Peas,” the lineup altered randomly as well.
Clinton, whose P-Funk All-Stars had played the club earlier in the evening, stuck around to play while most of his gang headed for Cleveland. Dr. Funkenstein wandered out early in the show, rasping, “We do this/ This is what we do” over a basic funk groove. P-Funker Gary Shider also hung back and later provided vocals on Sly and the Family Stone’s “Dance to the Music.”
Original beat box rapper Fresh, a veteran of Prince aftershows, moved the jam to a lengthy old-school rap interlude including “La-Di-Da-Di” and returned later to engage Blackwell in a beat box/drum duel. Musiq Soulchild joined the crew for “Just Friends.” At some point – so much was going on that it was difficult to pinpoint exactly when – ?uestlove took over on drums and Rhonda Smith took over on bass.
While Prince played bass on “777-9311,” Keys whirled in like a welcome storm, improvising lyrics. Admitting an inner dialogue she enjoyed earlier, she recalled herself saying, “Self, if you were to die tomorrow, God forbid, what is the one thing you would want to do tonight?” And with that she sat with Prince at the keyboards to sing her own energetic version of “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?” and played on “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker.”
The show ended at 4:05 a.m., with Prince asking (rhetorically, one would assume), “Did we turn it out?”