For once, when Morris Day and his hype men asked, “What time is it?” they really wanted to know.
Prince’s favorite frenemy and his modern-day lineup of the Time put off the start of their First Avenue homecoming show until 1:15 a.m. on Friday morning so fans could make it over to Minneapolis from the official Prince tribute concert in St. Paul, which ended almost an hour and a half late. Stevie Wonder was even among the caravan of hasty crosstown commuters. The Motown legend settled into a table on First Ave's balcony just about an hour after he left the stage at the X.
Unlike their embarrassing stint at the bloated and confused tribute show -- where they got a measly 10 minutes to perform despite being one of Prince’s best-known musical cohorts -- Day & Co. managed to get into a deep groove and steamroll their way through a mighty fun set at First Ave, the first performance by the Time in 20 years at the club where they made their live debut on Oct. 7, 1981. A little more time would’ve been nice given the long gap, but those 45 minutes before the 2 a.m. cut-off were more fun than the entire 4½ hours at the Xcel Center.
As the crowd quickly tripled in size with fans rushing in from the X, Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges took the stage and read the second Prince Day mayoral proclamation (after St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman’s declaration outside the arena some six hours earlier). Day made his own proclamation as he made his usual grand, mirror-checking entrance while the band played “1999” and then abruptly stopped on his cue. “Minneapolis, if you love Prince, make some noise!” the forever-charismatic frontman declared.
It turned into a rather standard set by the Time, but the legendary setting and Wonder’s presence made it an unforgettable one. Twin Cities fans already know from recent Paisley Park and Minnesota Zoo gigs that the current Time lineup -- with drummer Jellybean Johnson and keyboardist Monte Moir the only other originals – does the classic lineup justice. “Get It Up” and “Cool,” both from the group’s Prince-helmed 1981 debut LP, kicked things off with indelible old-school flavor, and the 1982 gems “The Walk” and “Wild and Loose” soon followed and soared. The “newest” songs in the set were “Chocolate” and “Jerk Out,” from 1990’s “Pandemonium” album. One of the best was the especially P-Funky “Fishnet,” from Day’s 1987 sophomore solo record.
Toward the end, the veteran groovers threw in Prince’s own “D.M.S.R.” – which easily could’ve been a Time track – before ending with the arm-flapping joy of “The Bird.” The 2 a.m. cut-off meant no encore of “Jungle Love,” but it was hard to complain about brevity after coming from the Xcel Center.
Here are some snapshots from the show via Instagram.