Music review: New Power Generation, O2 Academy, Glasgow

New Power Generation PIC: Jan Van Hecke
New Power Generation PIC: Jan Van Hecke
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His name was Prince and he was funky. So it follows that his band would be funky too – and how. It transpired that there was nothing like a New Power Generation party for a little election night catharsis. NPG backed Prince from 1990 to 2013, with a final hurrah on his last album, Hit n Run Phase Two.

New Power Generation, O2 Academy, Glasgow ****

But this two-hour set flowed freely throughout the Prince catalogue from early disco funk classics to the freewheeling fusion hits of the 80s, on to the NPG purple patch of the early 90s and beyond to albums that Prince himself possibly wouldn’t remember, with enough latitude for a couple of NPG’s own Prince-penned tracks from their long since deleted debut album Goldnigga.

Just as the many musicians who played with David Bowie over the years are keeping the live flame burning with their Bowie Celebration tours, so New Power Generation evoke the spirit of the Minneapolis maestro.

These are world-class funk musicians in the tight-but-loose tradition of George Clinton’s Parliament/Funkadelic ensembles, helmed by bandleader and keyboard whizz Morris Hayes with rapper Tony M out front.

Filling Prince’s platform boots was America’s Got Talent alumnus Mackenzie, an LA-based singer with the vocal chops and energy to carry off the catalogue of a man he declared “just did everything better than everyone else”.

Rather than set himself up for a fall though, this established him as a fan capable of pulling off a communal celebration as well as connoisseur cuts, including the funk soul psychedelia of 7, sexy slow jam Call My Name, the fluttering flute of Pop Life and the falsetto thrills of Black Sweat, a song Prince never played live.

The hits ranged from searing to sublime, from the electro jazz keyboard licks and lean funk guitar jangle of Sexy MF to swooning ballad The Beautiful Ones.The band were possibly unaware of the local provenance of one-time co-vocalist Sheena Easton as they brewed up a funk storm on U Got the Look but they were riding the Glasgow hysteria by the time they unleashed When Doves Cry, taking acceptable licence to deliver their own cool spin on Prince’s breakthrough hit, before reinstating the supremely funky Gett Off, rocking Let’s Go Crazy until it collapsed in on itself and leading the crowd in a closing, exultant Purple Rain. Fiona Shepherd