Excited energy abounded in Minneapolis’ State Theatre for the event billed “Original 7ven/Band Formerly Known as the Time Homecoming Concert” on November 5. The crowd flowed in, anticipation charging the air, part and parcel of which was nearly everyone decked out to the nines, clogging the main floor lobby, glad hands all around, seeing and being seen.
When the lights flickered, signaling just a few minutes to show time, folk abruptly ceased styling, profiling and running their mouths to go get their seats. And soon as Morris Day, Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis, Jesse Johnson, Jellybean Johnson, Monte Moir and Jerome Benton got busy, it seemed everyone in the audience simply “lost they mind.”
That’s how it went for 75 minutes. A civilized assemblage turned enraptured mob reveling in the return of their heroes. So much for taking seats: Most people stood, cheering and clapping throughout, waving arms, hips and everything else they could set in motion.
Okay, there was a malcontent who had a problem with Prince denying rights to market this incarnation as The Time. Someone decried, “Prince is a b— [rhymes with witch]!” Jerome Benton straightaway replied, “No, Prince is not [that]. If it weren’t for him, The Time would never have existed.” Ensuing applause silenced said naysayer.
A couple of drawbacks: A mere snippet from “Strawberry Lake” was included in the prerecorded intro, and “Lifestyle” was left off the set list altogether. Both songs, off the new album Condensate, kick butt and take names, richly departing from the expected with sweet, hook-rich melodies. And, naturally, the boyz playing pile-driving funk-to-the-bone.
Ultimately, Original 7ven/Band Formerly Known as The Time closed their rapturously received, 75-minute set with a send-’em-home-happy number. Having done “The Bird,” they came back for the obligatory encore, Jerome Benton asking everybody what they wanted to hear. Whoever asked for any number of songs — including a hallelujah chorus — there was no way the band was going to get out of the building without doing “Jungle Love.”
Thankfully, unlike jaded types who tend to phone it in before leaving and then go bask in backstage glory, Original 7ven/Band Formerly Known as The Time genuinely tore it up on this classic. Day, having put in a set of singing while preening, posturing, swiveling hips and shuffling feet, reached deep and sent nobody home disappointed.
Jellybean Johnson unquestionably could’ve and should’ve had clearer sound. This is a cat who, on top of knowing what he’s doing, serves notice that funk-rock calls for powerhouse finesse. Jesse Johnson, not two ways about it, is scarifying. He took off on a funk-blues fusion instrumental that defied belief.
In the end, one couldn’t ask for more monster musicianship than Original 7ven/Band Formerly Known as The Time. Or a more delighted audience.
Dwight Hobbes welcomes reader responses to P.O. Box 50357, Mpls., 55403.