Tributes on music award shows don’t always do the artist justice or give the fans a show to remember, but Prince’s tribute last Sunday at the BET Awards was one of the best tributes I’ve seen in a long, long time. It’s been almost a week and I still can’t forget how much fun it was to watch Prince watch other artists sing, reinterpret and celebrate his songs in fine fashion. There were many reason the tribute was so good, but for me the main reason the Prince tribute was a classic award show moment was because it gave us a glimpse into how Prince might of responded as a fan at some of his favorite concerts.
As the medley of songs unfolded, it was like we were watching Prince voyage back to the moment when he first went through his own fan-to-artist live concert transformation. Rarely do we get to see artists respond like this at a live show, let along their own music being celebrated by other artists. I can’t remember seeing an artist be so moved at an award show like Prince was as he sat in the front row bobbing his head, grinning with pleasure and feeling the groove. And what I love the most was having the chance to see Prince get jazzed emotionally and then physically respond as he watched other artists, who he has inspired, re-inspired him all over again. I still don’t know what was better, watching Prince’s reactions or watching the other artist’s performance themselves.
Either way, it was an excellent live music moment, and it all climaxed when Patti LaBelle flung her shoe and Prince caught it during finale of “Purple Rain”. These moments are few and far between during award show tributes. And like Lady’s Gaga’s performance at the 2009 AMA’s, I definitely have a bit more faith in the ability of award shows to deliver the goods for fans at home and the artist watching in the seats.
If you missed the BET award show you can see the whole Prince Tribute on the BET website.