I have had the pleasure of seeing Prince live in stage dozens of times. I hope to see him dozens more. Among the countless reasons why his live performances are so captivating (really, I will spare you the list) are some of the musicians he has shared the stage with. In October of 2013 on a typical spur-of-the-moment decision, myself and my two close friends rented a car and drove all night to the suburbs of Minneapolis, Minnesota. At the end of our journey, we waited in line outside Paisley Park, Prince’s fortress of solitude, as we had become accustomed to doing so many times.
The 17 hour trip paid off, and we were happily shuffled inside just before midnight. As we walked into the familiar foyer, the funk was all ready to roll. The newly christened NPG Hornz were in full effect supporting the one and only Liv Warfield. A performer with incredible charisma, a powerhouse of a voice and a steely gaze broken only with her wide, warm smile.
Seeing her on stage with Prince was a wonderful introduction but it wasn’t until her solo show as part of the Luminato Festival, and her recent solo release “The Unexpected” where we really get to see her shine. She brought the NPG Hornz, along with her backing band Blackbird, and rocked out right up until the Puritan 11:00 curfew that was set for the night. The group moved flawlessly from funk, to jazz, to scorching rock and even a sombre, a capella rendition of Strange Fruit. A rainy day had initially kept the grounds quiet but once Liv hit the stage, the crowd piled in and loosened up fast.