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MINNEAPOLIS, MN – If I asked you if a dead man could headline a concert, you might question my sanity. But during the second annual Prince Celebration held over the past few days in suburban Minneapolis, I saw it with my own two eyes. While the four-day celebration included panels on his music, his photographers, his dance collaborators and his bands, along with an abbreviated tour of his famous Paisley Park recording complex, the highlight of the event was –  a Prince concert.

Of course, that takes some explaining. Billed as “Prince: Live On The Big Screen” this year’s Celebration package  included a ticket to the event, which featured excerpts of two shows from his 2011 “Welcome To America” tour. During that tour, Prince, then 50, played to full houses with his crack NPG band, running through his catalogue of hits and popular B-sides. He was, as always, in top form, but these shows truly combined his showmanship and musicianship.  Here’s a clip from the tour:

 

 

By splicing together the excerpts, including the above clip, from two shows on that tour and adding the live NPG band on the Target Center stage including the now controversial Kirk Johnson and the familiar bald presence of background singer Shelby J., the video footage made for a credible approximation of the live concert experience.

While some fans found it off-putting and referenced Prince’s own disdain of hologram-like performances, others were moved and happy that it replicated a concert experience without digital manipulation. Despite the fact that excerpts of both shows are available on YouTube, some paid up to $200 to see it, despite it being moved back a night to accommodate the Minnesota Timberwolves playoff game.

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