Let’s face it. With Prince no longer with us, it was not surprising to anyone that every artist and band incarnation from his career would do their part to honor his legacy through his music. However, there are many bands to choose from and many times that you’ll get to the other side of one of these shows and can’t help but feel that you just experienced….not much. And that’s to be expected because in reality, Prince‘s music without Prince is an empty shell.
Enter the New Power Generation. There’s a point where some bands in this post-Prince world just try too hard. As if they’re attempting to recreate a show without him and you have to realize that’s not possible. The NPG actually accept that reality and conduct themselves accordingly.
The bands players have seen some changes over the years including members such as John Blackwell, Tommy Barbarella, Michael Bland, Rosie Gaines, and so many others. So it may be difficult to pinpoint exactly what your favorite iteration might have been since they covered a lot of ground for well over a decade. The current lineup that played in Atlanta at The Masquerade on March 5th included;
MacKenzie – Vocals
Morris Hayes – Vocals and keyboards
Levi Seacer Jr. – Lead Guitar
Tony Mosely – Vocals and rhythm guitar
Damon Dickson – Vocals, percussion
Sonny Thompson – Bass
Keith Anderson – Sax
Les Cleveland – Drums
While many of those names you might recognize, the biggest curiosity is the unenviable position of lead vocals covered by MacKenzie. Who in the world would want to step into Prince‘s shoes and cover his incomparable delivery? Well, the truth is, no one. Not even Mackenzie.
Which is why it is so incredibly refreshing to have him deliver such a pitch perfect performance that in no way attempts to recreate Prince‘s style or mimic him. Mackenzie is actually smart enough to realize that would be suicide.
He is pitch perfect and does an amazing homage. You also can’t help to recognize the amount of energy, range and vocal power he brings to the show. To give you an idea of the range, there are moments when he’s taking on the duties of background vocals and is actually covering Rosie Gaines original parts.
Then of course, there’s the infamous Tony Mosely aka Tony M, that helped Prince push the envelope that defined the NPG‘s sound in most of the 90’s. Tony M still brought the chops and rap quickness that everyone has come to expect and he sounded just as on point as he did back in the day. Not only did he do his normal rapping duties, but he also fleshed out the music with rhythm guitar which many have not seen him do live.
When The Revolution took to their touring schedule, the song selection stayed solely within the albums that they themselves performed and played on, which of course primarily stayed in the 80’s. New Power Generation decided not only to cover some of the NPG fan favorites, but gave the audience a surprising mixture of songs covering a good portion of Prince‘s career and decided to dig a little deeper into his catalog.
It’s also important to note that during our interview with most of the band members, they indicated that they were doing their best to get into the studio and record new material. But they showcased one of those new songs entitled Funkify and it was magical. If Funkify is a signal of the quality of music that’s coming, we could witness a true MPLS funk style resurgence coming down the pike.
The set list played in Atlanta;
The New Power Generation
U Got The Look
Girls and Boys
Love 2 the 9’s
Call My Name
Willing and Able
Deuce & A Quarter
Call The Law
Nothing Compares 2 U
Love Thy Will Be Done
I Could Never Take The Place Of Ur Man
The Morning Papers
Funkify (a new NPG Original)
Let’s Go Crazy
As for the backing band, the supporting musicians are always in rare form. Morris Hayes was impeccable and brilliant in his masterful delivery of classic NPG keyboard riffs and vocals. You can see the emotion in his eyes as if he’s still carrying the weight of the loss of his brother, but honored to be tasked with continuing the legacy.
Sonny T was as funky as he has always been and brought the energy that has become part of his persona. He’s either holding down the groove or plucking your face off with funky fat bottom slaps.
Damon D is the perfect sidearm with energetic dancing, perfectly placed percussion and vocals. Even out of view, Damon would sit behind a stack of speakers and prayerfully soak in the music as if he was quietly counting his blessings.
And speaking of percussion, NPG newcomer Les Cleveland was one of John Blackwell‘s protege’s and did a phenomenal job holding down the fort with the NPG when he’s not playing for Larry Graham. John would have been proud.
Keith Anderson was a massive presence preparing and delivering all of the intricate horn parts as a one man show and truly a force to be reckoned with as he took on the duties of multiple players and fleshed everything out well.
And that of course only leaves lead guitarist Levi Seacer who can rip it up like no other. He is an incredible fiery guitarist with solid and striking riffs although the multi-instrumentalist was normally seen plucking a bass in his normal NPG duties. You can already hearing him playing in your head during Sexy MF after Prince calls out, “Levi. Levi. Fly.”
It’s evident that this music means something more to them than the paycheck. You can see it in their reverence to the music. It’s refreshingly evident that they aren’t here to replace anyone, but to do their part in helping to heal the world by giving us the best thing they can share. And it’s the same exact medicine that Prince gave us for decades of his life. The beautiful music.
Go see the NPG and get yourself healed in the best way possible.