It would be a most unique and noteworthy concert moment for Gnarls Barkley singer Cee-Lo Green to rise up through the stage on a hydraulic platform to sing “Crazy”–quite possibly the best pop single of the last 10 years–unannounced, with superstar Prince standing to his right, on lead guitar. Yet only at a Prince concert would that moment rank as just No. 6 or 7 on a list of the evening’s highlights. (Of course, Cee-lo’s stint as opening act for the night, with a set of songs from his latest album, The Lady Killer, also placed highly on the list.)

For this past Monday’s final show of the hugely successful “Welcome 2 America” tour, Prince pulled out all the stops for what would prove to be an epic, spontaneous performance, and no amount of celebrity power (Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg and Kim Kardashian were among those in attendance) could take the spotlight away from the man of the hour. Though, admittedly, it’s hard to take your eyes off a man in a sparkly gold suit and matching high-heeled shoes.

Not enough can be said of the New Power Generation, Prince’s turn-on-a-dime backing band. This was “real music by real musicians” indeed, as often the singer would direct drummer John Blackwell to “watch me” as he commanded off-the-cuff arrangement changes. And the band had plenty of room to stretch out and get funky during the night’s many ballads, including the “somebody’s gonna get pregnant” combo of “Insatiable,” “Scandalous” and “Adore.”

“The Beautiful Ones” found Prince serenading American Ballet Theater soloist Misty Copeland from atop his purple piano, while “Nothing Compares 2 U,” presented as a duet with mighty backing vocalist Shelby J, was dedicated to Revolution drummer, and “good fine soldier,” Bobby Z, who is currently recovering from a heart attack.

As has been the standard for many of his recent shows, Prince and that knockout band played a number of his biggest hits on Monday. What’s remarkable is how he’s able to reinvent a well-worn classic like “Little Red Corvette” and make it both satisfying and fresh; the song was virtually unrecognizable for its first minute before exploding into an arena-wide sing-along for the chorus.

Monday’s entire set balanced the tried-and-true with some very unexpected moves. On this night, the perennial crowd-pleaser “Purple Rain,” typically a sure sign that houselights are soon to follow, was dispatched within the first hour. The familiar drumbeat of “When Doves Cry” sent the audience into a frenzy, but the song was cut short after just one line as the band kicked sharply into another of Prince’s five No. 1 singles, “Kiss.” Nobody seemed to complain.

On the whole, this was a celebration of a song catalog that contains “too many hits,” quite a few of which were teased in an encore medley, from his own (“Sign O’ the Times,” “Alphabet St.,” “Pop Life”) to those written for other artists (“Nasty Girl,” “A Love Bizarre”). But it wasn’t his signature hits that put the final stamp on the party–the night’s final encore segued the “Parade” deep cut “Mountains” (a huge and welcome surprise) into the Jacksons’ “Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground),” followed by Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People” and “I Want to Take You Higher.”

By night’s end, higher wasn’t a possibility. It was a triumphant close to Prince’s New York stand. He claimed he’d be back later this year. “I love it here!” he exclaimed.

Let’s hope he sticks to his word.