Prince mixed politics with performance this Sunday at the Royal Farms Arena, as part of a “Rally 4 Peace” concert. He performed in grey rather than his trademark purple, and asked concert goers to do the same, most likely in remembrance of Freddie Grey.
His new song “Baltimore” was inspired by the unrest and protests that have seized the city since Freddie Grey passed away in police custody. It contained the only direct reference to Grey that night.
“For those who have lost loved ones, we are your servants here tonight,” Prince told the crowd, “They say there’s no curfew, so I don’t know how long this is gonna go.”
He implored to the younger audience that they had to make the change.
“The system is broken,” he said, “It’s up to young folks to fix it. I want to stay in a hotel owned by one of you.”
Hundreds of people of all races and ages, though mostly middle-aged, turned out for the concert. Two hours of funk, falsetto and partying ensued topped off with wild guitar solos and several encores.
“No curfews,” he reminded the crowd.
Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore State’s Attorney, was specially invited onstage during part of the concert. She waved to the crowd from a leather couch before running back to her seat. She has charged six police officers who were involved with Grey’s death.
“Rally 4 Peace” was announced just last week with tickets ranging from $22 to $497 as a separate performance from his current “Hit ‘n’ Run” tour. His tribute song Baltimore was made available free on music-streaming service Tidal.
Just before the concert started, a woman announced for everyone to turn off their cellphones.
“What happens here is too big for your technology to capture,” she said.
As Prince wrapped up the concert, he asked everyone to take out their phones and light them up. With light filled up in the arena, Prince made sure Baltimore was a little less dark that night.