WASHINGTON — “The system is broken. It’s going to take the young people to fix it this time. We need new ideas, new life…new peace,” said Prince, speaking near the end of a more than two-hour show at the Royal Farms Arena in Baltimore on Sunday.
During a performance of “Purple Rain,” Prince continued, addressing the youth in attendance, saying that when he comes back to Baltimore, he wants to stay in “a hotel owned by you,” and to play “in an arena owned by you.”
The concert, billed as the “Rally 4 Peace,” was that and much more. It was less about talk and more about the music, as Prince took the audience on a trip through his career while highlighting the recent unrest in Baltimore.
Four songs in, he unveiled his new song, “Baltimore,” and brought out State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby to the loud cheering of the crowd. Mosby, attending the show with her husband Councilman Nick Mosby as a Mother’s Day gift, didn’t speak but waved to the crowd before returning to her seat.
The family of Freddie Gray was also seen onstage at one point, and reportedly Michael Brown and Eric Garner’s mothers were in attendance as well.
Special guests who performed with Prince included Doug E. Fresh, Miguel and Estelle, who helped with vocals on an emotional “Purple Rain.”
Upon entering the arena, concertgoers were informed that once the show started, not only was there to be no photography or recording, but no technology use, including cellphones, tablets and selfie sticks. Most heeded the warning, but plenty of pictures and videos found their way onto social media during the show and after it concluded. Some arena staff were seen removing people who dared to take video of the concert, or confiscated their cellphones.
However, even Prince let down his guard toward the end of the concert, when he told the audience to “take your cell phones out and light this place up!”
Mixed messages aside, people had time to focus on the show and issues at hand. Unity was seen throughout the show, as all races and ages came together to dance, sing and, while waiting for one of the many encores, chant “no curfew.” The latter caused one Twitter user to declare “…it’s amazing. Folks are chanting it like at a protest.”
When Mosby was brought out, one woman in the crowd remarked, “This is what it’s all about. … Not all police are bad. This isn’t about race – the race of the officers involved proves that … this is about coming together.”
For one night at least, it seemed Baltimore did.
Hear Prince’s news song:
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