The Official Prince Tribute at Xcel: 5 takeaways

Four hours, and so many surprises.
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From all over the world, thousands flocked to the Xcel Energy Center for the Official Prince Tribute. While there's been no shortage of Prince tributes this year thanks to the Purple One's absurdly dedicated fanbase and vast list of collaborators and contemporaries, Thursday night was meant to be the definitive salute.

Even without John Mayer, Christina Aguilera and Anita Baker, fans got their fill during the four-hour event and didn't want to leave once it was over. Here's our five most purple of takeaways.

We really got all of the Prince catalog

I posted some of the more obscure Prince songs I wanted to hear and, low-and-behold, we got two of them! In addition to the excellent b-sides of "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore" coming from Judith Hill and "She's Always In My Hair" courtesy of Kip Blackshire, we got "Most Beautiful Girl in the World" from Luke James, "The Ladder" from André Cymone and even "Musicology" from Shelby J -- effectively covering every era of Prince's career.

The star-power was incredible

The night began with three songs from Mint Condition and two songs from Morris Day and The Time. These would have been worth the price of admission. But then, Chaka Khan and Stevie Wonder did a duet on "1999" and later Wonder covered "Raspberry Beret." That is a thing that actually happened. Musical director Morris Hayes really coordinated a tremendous live anthology.

Mayte was breathtaking

The video packages featuring Prince's family during the first half of the show emphasized wanting people to get to know the real Prince. A subtle presentation of that came from the selection of Prince's favorites throughout the arts who made appearances. None knew Prince more intimately than his one-time wife Mayte, whose tremendous dancing made all of Xcel fall in love with her a little bit more.

Bilal is still the top Prince emulator

While all the covers were well-received, perhaps the biggest crowd pop of the night came from Bilal's unbelievably dead-on rendition of "The Beautiful Ones." Notoriously one of Prince's most challenging songs to cover, it previous stole the show at the Revolution's First Avenue tribute shows last month. Here Bilal cranked up the emotion to drive the entire crowd into an extended uproarious applause at its conclusion. Bilal later got bonus points for effortlessly without vocal effect doing a perfect Camile voice on "If I Was Your Girlfriend."

In the end, Prince took us home

How do you top stellar tribute after stellar tribute when it comes to the man of the hour's signature song? With the man himself! Yes, the actual voice of Prince was heard on a broadcasted audio track as the band played along for a deeply emotional version of "Purple Rain" as purple sequins confetti fell from the sky. You could tell it took the crowd a moment to hear who was doing the voice so dead-on, but once the collective realization it was really Prince occurred with his intimate between-line banter, the waterworks began.

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