Prince delivers funk-filled finale at SXSW
FILE - In this Oct. 14, 2010 file photo, musician Prince holds a news conference at The Apollo Theater announcing his "Welcome 2 America" tour in New York. Prince turns off the lights at South by Southwest on Saturday night, Match 16, 2013, with an unexpected and intimate showcase that ranks among the biggest surprises in years at the star-studded music festival and conference. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer, File)
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — How did Prince close out South by Southwest Music Festival's weeklong showcase of rock n' roll?
By naturally throwing a totally different kind of party: a grooving, brass band-backed funk fest that stretched to 3 a.m. and outlasted many fans lucky enough to get inside the exclusive show that also featured A Tribe Called Quest.
As Justin Timberlake and the Smashing Pumpkins headlined other SXSW wrap-ups nearby, Prince prevailed as the toughest ticket Saturday night by performing for only 300 people in his first appearance at the annual music festival that drew 2,200 bands and artists this year.
This Fall 2012 publicity photo provided by Rogers and Cowan shows musician Prince performing in concert in Chicago. Prince turns off the lights at South by Southwest on Saturday, March 16, 2013, with an unexpected and intimate showcase that ranks among the biggest surprises in years at the star-studded music festival and conference. (AP Photo/Rogers and Cowan)
Prince towered over them all — but his concert at the tiny La Zona Rosa club that sits on the fringe of the SXSW mayhem was no grandiose spectacle. He performed for 2½ hours on a spartan stage behind a giant video board. He contentedly played bandleader instead of superstar, often disappearing backstage for stretches as the band jammed.
"They called our people and said they wanted some funk in Austin," said Prince, before belting out the last bars of a gentle rendition of "Purple Rain."
A 12-piece brass band joined the latest incarnation of Prince's New Power Generation for a run of hits like "1999" and "Cool" that jammed with a soulful backbone. The show began with the band making a Mardi Gras-style march onto the stage, only to have their horn blasts drowned out by shrieks upon fans sighting Prince in a magenta, high-collared shirt and snug black blazer.