Prince: Live at Tramps, 1998

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Over here at the Paste offices, we’re still very saddened regarding the recent passing of Prince. His legendary stage presence and incredible energy made for a dynamic live show. Here is one of his greatest shows in our archive, recorded live from 1998 at Tramps in New York City.

Although Prince is a legendary musician with a massive fan base, he thrived best when he played intimate venues. Such is the case for this show, which followed a monster performance at the historic Madison Square Garden. In certain cities, such as New York, Prince and his ensemble would perform secret after show parties at small nightclubs, often into very late into the night. These performances were even more talked about than the regular shows, and many consider them to be a historic part of live music in general. Backed by his New Power Soul Festival band, he performed an intimate show at Tramps until the wee hours of the morning. Renowned funk musicians Larry Graham and Jerry Martini also made appearances, in addition to vocalists Chaka Khan and Doug E Fresh. The first half hour of the show focused on huge funk jams, followed by an extended medley with Doug E Fresh and Marva King. The last portion of the show focused on soul music vocalized by Chaka Khan.

The biggest highlight of the three portions may be the vocal medley with Marva King and Doug E Fresh. Featuring songs spanning many genres, this jam lasted close to nineteen minutes. The songs performed including numbers such as “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” “Heaven Must Be Like This,” “Eric B For President,” “ The Show,” “La Di Da Di,” “Bustin’ Loose” and “A**whuppin In A Trunk.” With the exception of the instrumental opening, which was composed by Deodato and is best known as being the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the majority of the songs performed during this segment were funk and R&B classics. This was definitely a theme that was commonplace throughout the entire evening.

Prince was an iconic musician. His almost mythical concerts attest to his mysterious image. This show at Tramps was one such event. Based on the reactions of the lucky few who got to attend the concert, this show was truly a fabled occurrence, one that would become an important part of the history of the live music scene that has become such a phenomenon.