Prince appeared on stage at City Winery at precisely 1:40 a.m. Friday morning, sheathed in a sleek purple suit with loose gold chains, sporting a natural afro and retro sunglasses, waving a sparkling gold cane, and looking every bit like a character from a '70s blaxploitation film. The intimate venue was decked out in purple lights in appreciation, and he shrieked with joy through nearly two hours of steady funk jams. Prince literally dropped the mic at one point, dramatically walked off stage for a minute, then came right back laughing and dancing. If you're into exclamatory sax solos, then this was a show 4 u.

The New Power Generation (NPG) had been slated to play four nights at City Winery for awhile now, but the big question was whether Prince was going to show up for a surprise appearance. Around 11 p.m. last night, City Winery sent out a blast letting people know tonight was the night.

Waiting on line, we were greeted by a stream of employees explaining the "Purple Rules" over and over again: no photos, no videos, they don't even want you taking your cell phone out inside the venue if you can help it. This was no joke, as Chicagoist learned earlier this summer: cell phones apparently interfere with His Purple Majesty's ability to seance with the funk vibes of the universe.

Ben Yakas/Gothamist

NPG came on around 12:40 a.m. with an 11-piece horn section—every variety of horn must have been on stage at some point—and an energetic hour-long set with various singers taking the spotlight. When they stuck to funk and soul, it was a lot of fun; when they lapsed toward smooth jazz balladry, you could feel the crowd itching for the main event.

Once Prince came onstage with 3rd Eye Girl to "Musicology", the tiny stage swelled to 20-23 musicians and dancers at a time as he sashayed and cooed until 3 a.m. The most surprising thing was how stupendously happy he appeared to be, constantly smiling and waving, encouraging the horn players (measuring their heads with his hands), and demanding the lights be turned off so everyone could get funky in the dark. I've never heard the word "funky" tossed around so accurately or often—it felt like I was part of the world's easiest game of "Password".

The other surprising thing was the setlist: he only played about 7 or 8 songs, but that included a very extended cover/medley of "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" and The Time’s “Cool” (assisted by Doug E. Fresh). The biggest hit of the evening was an incredible performance of "Nothing Compares 2 U" (which climaxed with one of those exclamatory sax solos); there was a piano version of “Something In The Water (Does Not Compute),” the completely appropriate “All The Critics Love You In New York,” a cover of India.Arie's "Brown Skin," and the set-closing new song "Big City." It sounded like one of his late-'80s classics, to the extent that I asked multiple people whether this was a lost song from The Black Album.

And despite the photos and videos you see above, make no mistake: the cell phone gestapo was out in full force. I watched as they dragged away multiple people who held their phones up just a second too long trying to capture Prince's essence or whatever. People had their phones snatched from them in mid-air, and if they argued, they were escorted out of the building in a very non-funky manner.

I didn't really feel the desire to take out my phone—Prince and his merry band of horn blowers masterfully kept my brain and legs fully engaged (his stunning lead dancer, who shimmied and writhed and pulled out every sexy dance trick imaginable, added quite a bit to the proceedings as well). I couldn't take my eyes off of the stage. Prince worked the crowd better than Mayor Bloomberg at Goldman Sachs, and it was the great kind of funky to boot.