Anyone who is a fan of Prince will know exactly who The New Power Generation are; having been the Purple God’s backing band from 1990 to 2013 including the legendary run of 21 sell out shows at London’s O2 Arena and making their recording debut on the hugely successful and critically acclaimed ‘Diamonds & Pearls’ album, they really need no introduction. For those of us who are not familiar with this incredibly talented multi configured band, they are probably the only band on the planet who are really qualified to bring the music of Prince back to life, after all Morris Hayes, the band’s longest serving member, played keys for Prince for 20 years.
On July 24th, the band will be appearing in a one night only show at Camden’s iconic venue KOKO which has itself gone through a rebirth but was one of Prince’s favourite venues, having played his last secret London gig there in 2015 in support of Autism Rocks Charity before his sad death in 2016. The marriage of venue and artist could not be better suited or more poignant.
Morris Hayes is the band’s leader and what the band do is to bring the music of Prince back to life, not by imitation or by being some kind of tribute band, but by doing what Prince himself would want. The music evolves and lives because it is reinterpreted by the band that understood and served Prince the best. The hugely acclaimed MacKenzie takes the reins as lead vocal, drums are provided by Minneapolis music royalty Brandon Commodore whilst rapper Tony Mosley, lead guitar Mike Scott, bass Sonny Thompson and sax Keith Anderson of original NPG fame take the instrumental honours.
The New Power Generation are the band with the best pedigree to bring a show like this to life and the fact that they were present for so much of Prince’s musical output means that they saw the master at work and therefore know what he would have expected of them. After all, in that legendary run of 21 shows at the O2 he played a total of 504 songs, yes 504, over 52 and a half hours on stage and declared: “it doesn’t matter who came before or who comes after…. from now on the O2 is Prince’s house”. I remember vividly being there for opening night, one of many occasions I was lucky enough to see him play, and he would tell the audience “I have too many hits” as he moved seamlessly from one brilliant song to the next. He was very much the maestro, the conductor but the orchestra and the oil to the Prince machine was the New Power Generation.
Having seen Prince play so many times, I remember back in 2018 on August 2nd, almost exactly 11 years after seeing Prince play the O2, I went to see the NPG celebrate Prince at the Indigo at O2 and I was blown away by the love, the connection and the care this band showed towards keeping the music alive. This was more than a gig, it was a crusade to keep the legacy of Prince alive, to somehow bring the magic to a new generation; it was a gauntlet they had picked up after reuniting for the Official Prince Tribute Concert in Minnesota in 2016 after their hero’s untimely passing.
Sadly, unless Prince is brought back to life in an ABBA style rebirth, we cannot see Prince play his music himself but I can assure you that the very next best thing is to see the New Power Generation do their thing and the fact that it will be held at one of London’s best musical venues, and one so close to Prince’s heart, is an added bonus. Trust me, if there ever is a similar style show to the ABBA extravaganza going on at the moment, that purple avatar will most definitely be backed by his beloved New Power Generation but until then seize the chance to see this incredible event while you can.
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The New Power Generation are best known for being the backing band for which legendary musician?