Eric D. and I first met on 9/3/97^, at a moe. show at Club Toast in Burlington, VT. Last Friday, 12/17/10, we saw Prince together in New Jersey. Full circle. Did I just melt your face?
Prince is a Legend. I grew up listening to him, because everybody did: he's Prince. Friends have waxed poetic about his epic live shows for years, but I'd never had the pleasure. Neither had Eric. Until now! He scored the tickets and I happily tagged along. We were both pretty psyched for the show.
Cassandra Wilson and Maceo Parker each played short opening sets. The in-the-round "symbol"-shaped stage was only lit as a circle for the opening acts. You know what happens if the opener ventures beyond said circle? Prince mad.
Cassandra was good, Maceo was Maceo (good, slightly repetitive-- mad respek, though). Prince sang When We're Dancing Close And Slow with Cassandra & played guitar on We Gon' Make It Funky with Maceo. In both cameos, shrieks from the ladies in the room filled the gaps in between each lyric and every guitar rake. It was pretty amusing. Mostly because Prince is sort of like a tall dwarf in spandex and heels.
In between sets, there was some sort of weird movie playing above the stage with a complicated story line that surely Prince had spent a lot of (or maybe very little) money on. It was subtitled. It did not make sense (to me). And it was set to a soundtrack of (wait for it) --- Prince songs! Prince plays his own music in between sets.
Surrounding the stage were roped-off areas with tables, chairs, and palm trees- kind of a lounge vibe thing going on-- this must have been part of the $350-700/ticket Prince ATM VIP Package. These must be the same people buying the Prince Leggings.
The Purple One ascended with much smoke and lights. Let's Go Crazy -> Delirious -> Let's Go Crazy -> 1999, Little Red Corvette! Shit man, Prince rocks. This was solid! The set was great. I actually didn't realize I knew so many Prince songs, which was cool. He may have lost me a few times in the middle a bit, but I never strayed too far & he got me back with Guitar and Purple Freakin' Rain. Multiple wardrobe changes throughout the night as well, expected & delivered.
Kiss was an awesome encore, but he kept letting the audience sing the word "kiss" and for $60, I would really have liked to hear Prince sing the word "kiss" himself. Just sayin'. Prince disappeared underneath the stage, but then a snare drum and cymbals appeared and Sheila E. took over for a Glamorous Life. She stayed up for 4 more tunes.
I'm unclear if this was all part of the show, but Prince was talking about the curfew early on, starting like halfway through his set. After the first encore chunk of 5 songs, the band walked off and the house-lights went up, but the stage lights stayed on and house music did not play. It was 11pm-ish. Some of the crowd started to funnel out but many stayed at their seats and continued to cheer for more. In what felt like a total James Brown move, Prince and the whole crew came running back through the tunnel to underneath the stage. They re-appeared and proceeded to play 4 more songs with the house lights up. I don't know if they hit the curfew, came close to hitting the curfew, or just went way over and didn't care, but Prince was there to please the crowd-- and he definitely did.
It was super cool to finally see Prince. He didn't quite meet my possibly inflated expectations as The Shredding Live Guitar Player God^^, I had heard so much about. I really thought he'd be pulling out some crazy funk skillz and great loudness, but his solos felt kinda cliched and over-simplified. Weedilly-weedilly-RAKE-RAKE. Perhaps this just wasn't one of those shredding shows? Regardless, he absolutely met my expectations as The Great Showman I had heard so much about. It was a purely awesome musical experience, no doubt. Dude, Prince!
Mad points to Prince for single-handedly trying to bring back the gold sequined turtleneck. Some points deducted for not introducing his band. Sure, Prince is an eccentric egomaniac-- but not even introducing his band (he said Sheila E.'s name like 30 times)!? That's kinda dick.
Eric D., thanks for the fun!! Prince, 12/17/10, Jersey: 7.75-8ish HUZZAHS!!!
Let's Go Crazy ->
Let's Go Crazy ->
Little Red Corvette
Love... Thy Will Be Done
The Beautiful Ones
Sexy Dancer / Le Freak ->
Eye Love U, But Eye Don't Trust U Anymore*
Take Me With U ->
Glamorous Life** ->
A Love Bizarre** ->
The Bird** ->
If I Was Your Girlfriend
* w/ Maceo Parker
** w/ Sheila E.
^ Eric looked this up for me, thanks for that!
^^ Not that I’m trying to start any beef between them, but it seems like Chuck could easily mop the floor with Prince. HAIL SATAN!