The New Power Generation Band at House of Blues, September 23, 2012
Photo: Max Herman
A big purple question mark hung over the House of Blues last night. Preceding Prince's three-night "Welcome 2 Chicago" stand, which begins tonight at 8pm at the United Center, the evening was billed as a listening party for his protege Andy Allo. And to the chagrin of those expecting a glimpse of the the Purple One, if not a song or two as an amuse-bouche for the three "Purple After Jam" sessions at the HoB, it was just that—merely a promo event for the afro-sporting New Power Generation backup singer. After a DJ teased the audience with a short set of mostly Prince hits ("DMSR," "Sexy MF"), Allo introduced a spin of her new album Superconductor. A stage full of instruments sat untouched, and everyone imagined it was only a matter of time before Prince was doing the splits in between ripping solos on his phallic curlycue guitar. Fans had reason to expect an appearance. Tickets were $35—quite pricey for a mere listening party—and House of Blues staffers were wont to hint that a cameo was inevitable. One anxious audience member went so far as to boo Allo as she came onstage to intro a song. At last, around 11:30pm, the members of NPG got on their instruments to do a single song with Allo, who advised people to stay tuned for the full show on Monday night. The proficient 11-piece that is NPG jammed out a funkified version of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition," and its saxophonists impressively stretched out on Luther Vandross's "Never Too Much." But all that musicianship did little to break the crowd's purple fever. As people watched the band, all they seemed to notice was the absence of Prince.