Prince gets in a jam with police

Chris Riemenschneider
Star Tribune (Minneapolis) (MCT)

MINNEAPOLIS - Apparently, even Prince isn't enough of a king in Minneapolis to bend the laws.

The rock legend's much-anticipated return to First Avenue nightclub was unplugged by police early Sunday morning after it went almost an hour past the required 3 a.m. CDT closing time.

"We gotta do what the authorities say," Prince told the sold-out crowd, which waited around until 2:45 a.m. for the singer to take the stage where he filmed his 1984 film "Purple Rain." It was his first performance there since 1987, and it was cut short at just over an hour.

Minneapolis Police Sgt. E.T. Nelson, who watched from across the street as fans filed out of the club, pointed to the many officers working overtime due to the event. More than 20 officers, including four on horseback, had worked to block off the streets surrounding the club and Target Center, the site of his sold-out concert a few hours earlier.

"I think it's very arrogant of him to think he can hold us here like this," said Nelson, who did not believe an exception should be made for the homegrown Rock and Roll Hall of Famer. "The law is the law for anybody."

Police put an end to a nearly 12-hour stretch of three different Prince performances in downtown Minneapolis, which started Saturday afternoon with a special Macy's in-store gig. The singer showed little sign of fatigue at the jam-packed First Ave show, and in fact his set list included nine more songs that he did not get to play.

Coincidentally or not, he did have time to perform his 1982 hit "Controversy," which includes the line, "(I) wish there were no rules."

"We're at First Ave," he said at the start of the song, "We gotta do it."

First Avenue's owner Byron Frank was watching the show with his wife from the club's DJ booth when he learned that police wanted to shut it down. He said the police talked with Prince's crew and did give the rocker a little extra time to wind it down.

"It's very sad they had to do it, because everybody was having such a wonderful time," said Frank, who nonetheless saw a silver (or purple?) lining in Prince's final comment of the night.

"I love you all, and I will be back," the singer said before leaving the stage.

That was little consolation for the fans who had waited around for several hours, including many who came from out-of-town.

"That's just messed up that they would do that," said Andre Clerkley, from Chicago. "And the show was going so great up until then."

John Hinz, of White Bear Lake, Minn., said the situation should have been no surprise to longtime Prince fans.

"It seems like something unpredictable like this always happens when Prince is around," Hinz said.

First Avenue has a late-night permit with the city, which is given to some clubs to stay open till 3 a.m. as long as they stop serving liquor at 2 a.m. There is a chance the venue will be fined for going overtime, Nelson said. However, that was the only incident from any of the three Prince events, he added.

"The crowd has not presented us with any problems," Nelson said, "and neither has First Avenue - other than the fact that it should have closed at 3."

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