Pop culture critic and ESPN analyst Bomani Jones was in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome along with 50,000 other people on Friday, July 4, for Prince’s ESSENCE Festival performance. We had to get a recap from the biggest Prince fan we know.

“You knew it would be a helluva night at the Superdome when Prince, to the surprise of the audience, popped into Janelle Monae’s set. Even with top notch opening acts like Monae and Nile Rodgers — whom Prince joined to play guitar on “Let’s Dance” — this night at the Essence Festival would be his.

And it would be funky. He brought the energy and sound of the Sign O The Times tour, with lots of horns and plenty of songs to make us dance. It was the kind of party where he blew the dust off his biggest hits, but also reclaimed the funk classics he wrote for acts like Sheila E. and The Time. Yes, he threw in a couple of ballads and brought the house down with “Purple Rain” in his first encore, but this was a party.

Loading the player...

It wasn’t a time to show off on the guitar like he did on last year’s tour. Before the encore, he hadn’t even touched his guitar since opening with “Let’s Go Crazy.” Leaving the work to his band, 3RDEYEGIRL, the musical genius focused more on being the consummate showman. He danced and teased the crowd, reveling in the fact they came to see him and rewarding the crowd with the same energy it offered him.

The Essence Festival is part fashion show, part family reunion. People come to experience the music as much as they do to appreciate it. And the experience this time was one helluva party on a sweaty Friday night.”