I hope that one day I’m famous enough to throw myself a birthday party at the legendary First Avenue. Even if it does happen, it probably won’t be as exciting as last night’s party for Sheila E. was. Yes, that Sheila E. “The Queen of Percussion” herself threw a hell of a birthday party last night and although I walked in with no expectations having never seen her perform before and being a bit younger than her typical fan, I left at the end of the night wishing it never had to end.
I don’t even know where to begin with Sheila E. If you’re younger, you may not know the name but you definitely know who she is. Sheila has played with all of the greats including a stint with Prince which makes her a bit of a local figure but, honestly, I think she truly shined with her solo material. She made female drummers a thing. I mean, I know there a millions of them and many are amazing but she really brought a sense of feminism to a male dominated instrument. With seven full lengths out as a solo project and far too many other albums that she was featured on to list and even more singles and other random collaborations, Sheila E. is truly one of those legend type figures. When I told my mom who I was seeing yesterday, she instantly broke into song and, let’s be honest, if my mom knows who I’m seeing on any given night, that person is a big deal.
Sheila E. appeared on the stage right around 8:30 last night surrounded by her overly-talented band. The stage was full of smiles and just all over good vibes as they jumped into their set that seemed much more like a party than an actual concert. With a couple of presents and cards laid out on the front of the stage, it truly did feel like a friend’s birthday party just an extremely extravagant one. I spent the first couple of songs in the photo-pit (yes, I’m trying my hand at photography now) and it was hard to actually take pictures instead of just standing there and dancing. I wasn’t the only one having that issue and although I was intimidated to be in the photo pit with some of the best of the best in the Twin Cities, all of us had smiles on our faces and seemed to spend more time with our cameras down and our dancing shoes on than actually taking pictures. Was there a bit of a dance party in that pit last night? Most definitely and it definitely helped take some pressure off and ease my anxiety about shooting such a legend.
Sheila E. seems to be a lady that just can’t stand still and that makes for a truly electric live show. Whether she was behind the drums that were set up near center stage or if she had her microphone in hand while stalking the front of the stage, she was dancing and had a giant smile on her face. Although a superstar, she came off as fun and personable. Just a couple of songs in, she invited the first ten people who could get to the side of the stage onto stage for what ended up being an uber beautiful dance party. Although I was right there and easily could have found myself on stage with the legend herself, I hung back waiting to see what would happen and I’m honestly so glad I did. The array of people that took the stage was stunning. The random selection of ten people show the demographic of the show perfectly and that demographic was anyone with a soul and a beat in their heart. From man to woman, young to old, white to black, the mix of people was one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. The song probably lasted a couple of minutes but it felt like mere seconds before the guests were ushered off stage only after getting a hug from Sheila and her band. I knew that last night was going to be fun and I knew I was going to enjoy it but I don’t think I expected to witness such a touching and beautiful moment when I walked in last night.
I don’t know how many songs Sheila E. and her band played but I know I could have stood there for at least a hundred more and still not gotten bored. There were slow songs, fast songs, songs that made you dance, and songs that made you sway. Regardless of what style of song it was, there was something about last night’s performance that made it impossible not to smile and get completely lost in the moment. There were multiple times between songs where the cheering from the nearly sold out audience was too loud for Sheila to jump into the next song. Overcome with what I think was happiness and with tears in her eyes, every thank you she said to the crowd was felt, not just heard. I honestly don’t know the last concert that made my heart so damn warm.
I know that this review has been a bit all over the place and I apologize. I think I was just so caught off guard by how enjoyable last night was. I left with a pep in my step, a smile on my face, and yet another concert that I will never forget.
Happy Birthday Sheila E. Thank you for sharing the special day with us and making us all feel like birthday queens and kings.