Pearl Jam, Maxwell and More Pay Tribute to Prince at Day 2 of New Orleans Jazz Fest 2016

Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic
Eddie Vedder, Jeff Ament and Stone Gossard of Pearl Jam perform onstage at the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival  at Fair Grounds Race Course on April 23, 2016 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  

The second day of the 2016 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival kicked off at the Fair Grounds Race Course Saturday (April 23) with sets from New Orleans locals Anders Osborne and rapper Mystikal, plus more tributes to the late Prince by Pearl Jam and R&B crooner Maxwell. Here are the highlights from day two of Jazz Fest 2016 (all times local).1:30 p.m. Anders Osborne is ripping it up on the Acura Stage, Jazz Fest’s de facto main stage, early in the day. The veteran singer-songwriter looks leaner and meaner than ever, shearing his signature beard, with his public struggle with addiction and recovery in the proverbial rearview mirror. Osborne and his band jam through an extended groove of Derek & the Dominoes’ “Layla,” then tear through a stirring “Five Bullets” off his 2013 record Peace.

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4 p.m. Mystikal has been away from the charts for a minute. His last hits were years ago, due to legal troubles he said he was “ashamed” of. But, to hear him telling it, he’s on the rebound. The rapper announced at his Jazz Fest set at the Congo Square Stage -- a consistent festival gig for the New Orleans rapper -- that he has new music “out this summer, finally!” The rapper’s last proper studio album was 2001’s Tarantula, with a few singles featuring Lil Wayne in the last few years. So the rapper is sticking to old hits like “Shake Ya Ass”, “Here I Go” and “The Man Right Chea,” among others.

4:30 p.m. Pearl Jam takes the Acura Stage for a two-and-a-half hour set. It’s an honor reserved usually for the likes of Bruce Springsteen at recent Jazz Fests. The rockers kick off with “State of Love and Trust” followed by “Arms Aloft”, replacing the band’s native Aberdeen reference with the intentionally mispronounced “New Or-LEENS” shout-out, as the crowd goes wild. “It’s nice to be in a place where colorful people aren’t just tolerated. They’re celebrated,” frontman Eddie Vedder said early on in the band’s set. The group followed with dueling solos on various deeper cuts (“Corduroy”, “God’s Dice”, “Mind Your Manners”) from Mike McCready and Stone Gossard.

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Vedder slows the long set’s pace with “Nothingman” and a quick cut from his solo song “Setting Forth”, taking a moment to acknowledge what’s really on the crowd’s mind. “It’s been such a crazy few days,” he says. Vedder mentions the instrumental cover of “Evenflow” that 3rdEyeGirl, Prince’s backing band, performed live in 2013. 

Vedder dedicated their performance to Prince. Throw in “Don’t Call Me Daughter” and, later on, a field full of people singing along (including Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith watching from the side stage) to “Better Man” and their set still wasn’t over. A rock-solid rock show.

 


5:40 p.m. Maxwell seduces the audience like nobody’s business at the Congo Square Stage, somehow not sweating during a hot sunset at the end of a crowded Jazz Fest day. His high falsetto on “Ascension (Don’t Ever Wonder)” competed with the shrieks from his female fans. His smooth rendition of “Cold” shouted out the city’s Creole vibe. “Bad Habits” and “Love You” followed, introducing the latter with some kind words for Prince.

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“We just lost the greatest musician in the world,” Maxwell said. “He was one of the most beloved, one of the most special… Everyone is up on this stage because of him. Prince was not just once but he will forever be the greatest [musician in the world].”

The R&B star followed with a musical tribute to the late singer, riffing on “This Woman’s Work”-- one of Maxwell's highest-charting singles to date -- with “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life,” a line from Prince's “Let’s Go Crazy” and the titular lyric of “When Doves Cry.” It was a fitting tribute to an icon gone too soon.