Small Room, Big Sound: Prince Rocks The Dakota Jazz Club

Updated: 01/17/2013 2:31 PM KSTP.com By: Sarina Long

Small and mighty is the best way to describe Minnesota's native musical legend.

Or ... Prince.

His 11 p.m show (the second of six this week), billed as a sound check late Wednesday night, had rhythm, funk and plenty of movement.

"Movement" started off the show with a brass band in a New Orleans style march leading Prince through the crowd, with his baton in tow -- beginning downstairs and parading through the audience upstairs at the Dakota Jazz Club.

From there, the North Minneapolis native and his band -- which included a drummer said to be auditioning for a full-time gig, a young woman playing the keyboard, a bass player and a six-piece horn section -- sailed through a six-song set and single song encore that ran a little over an hour.

This show was more about "Prince the Bandleader" than "Prince the Performer." 

He barely said a word -- a "psych" here after a familiar chord teased a single, a "thank you" there to the adoring crowd -- but nothing was sung.  The legendary performer spent most of his time playing his signature guitar or piano, and conducting the ensemble through it's half-dozen jams.

Most of the songs included the entire band in a jazzy, fluid jam.  The others were more fusion and funk with the horn section dismissed offstage.

Solos were applauded, riffs boogied-to, and from the response of a crowd... a drummer won a job.

The "psych" chuckle wasn't the only act of misdirection in the show.  After their lone encore tune, Prince and his band appeared to be set to launch into a second.  Initially playing over a recorded drum-and-bass line, the band slowly departed one-by-one as the song played on.  Eventually leaving the recording -- and an applauding crowd -- in their wake.

Fans of all ages packed the sold out venue, despite the Dakota's brief issue with their online ticketing system Tuesday.

The announcement of Prince's impromptu jam sessions at the Dakota Jazz Club came yesterday morning. What a surprise for Minnesotans who have been hoping for something like this for a long time.

You can thank the band Fun, known for their popular hit, "We Are Young" who rented out Paisley Park.

What the fans thought:

"Prince tried to out-funk Tower of Power and he did a good job," says Paul from San Diego, who flew in especially for this show.

"Anytime you get a chance to see a legend perform at a venue like The Dakota, you take it. This is the top performance I've ever seen and he didn't sing one note," says Russ from Minneapolis.

"It's hard to sit down. This show was meant for standing and dancing," says Tess from Roseville.

There are a total of six open rehearsal shows as Prince preps for his next tour, each scheduled at 8 PM and 11 PM Wednesday through Friday.

Wednesday, January 16 shows were titled "Sound check." Tickets are $70. These shows included a drummer audition.

Thursday, January 17 shows are touted as "Jam Sessions." Tickets range from $100-$150.

Friday, January 18 shows are billed as a very Prince-like "Surprise." Tickets range from $200-$250. Friday's show will be standing room only on the club's floor.

Important note from the Dakota: "The kitchen will be closed all night and there will be no food available for purchase. Cameras and cell phones will not be allowed inside. If you are caught with a phone, you will be removed from the venue by security, no exceptions*. A cell phone check will be provided at the door."

*This happened near our table and it wasn't pretty.

**Our photo was taken after the show.

Sarina Long is a columnist for KSTP.com reporting on the latest entertainment news.