When Sheila E. opened with the B-side jam, “Housequake,” it was immediately apparent that she was going to be highlight of the Prince tributes. And of course, as his longtime collaborator, muse and musical kindred spirit, she should’ve been.
Opening the set on the drums, Sheila E., who is prepping to release a Prince-inspired album, Girl Meets Boy, captivated from start to finish, paying proper homage to her friend, with a performance that was energetic and celebratory instead of maudlin. It was clear that Sheila came to celebrate Prince’s life, not mourn his death and she did that with her spirited set.
Whether she was on the drums, a purple guitar, or singing and dancing, Sheila E. was dazzling. She ran through a funky, electric nearly eight-minute medley that included jams both performed by Prince and created by him for other artists including her own “Glamorous Life,” “Erotic City” and “Baby I’m a Star,” hopping from the drums, to the guitar, dancing and just being altogether fantastic. Jerome Benton (who was Morris Day’s righthand man in the classic film, Purple Rain and later starred with Prince in Under the Cherry Moon) even joined Sheila on stage to do the signature dance of funk group, The Time.
In the end, a triumphant Sheila held a purple guitar in the air, as tears gathered in her eyes, and it was hard not to be affected, particularly when she was joined on stage by Prince’s ex-wife, Mayte Garcia.
This was the Prince tribute fans were waiting for and Sheila E. delivered one of the best tributes for any star in recent memory.