I wrote this after the last time I saw Prince perform. It was a beautiful night. For some reason I didn’t post it… until I saw the news on April 21.
March 21, 2016
He tests his audiences, at least it has been the case every one of his shows I have been to. This night, not many knew what to expect. It was announced on a Friday, and it took place the next Monday, March 21st. A piano and a microphone, a one man show and the man was Prince.
The girl beside me, was told by her male companion: “I heard it’s a two hour show.” The girl replied:”I would be happy with one hour.” I kinda felt the same. I mean.. I’m a die hard fan… but I wouldn’t expect more than a one hour show if it was just Prince on stage with a piano…
The audience was all ready by 10pm. At 10:20pm Prince hadn’t taken the stage yet. We heard some orchestral music while people took selfies and ushers kept having to ask people to put away their phones. Finally the lights went down.
There were almost two dozen candles on stage and a piano with an empty chair. We heard more pre-recorded orchestral music for a few minutes, watching kaleidoscope visuals projected on the back wall and on the piano on the stage. No Prince yet. Testing!
After the music stopped, we saw Prince’s sillhouette, standing with a cane, on the back wall, looking like a total high class pimp. The square door rolled up and Prince walked on stage. He circled the piano twice, like a lion circling his prey and then sat down to play.
He began with Joy in Repetition, one of my all time favorite songs. He played Elephants and Flowers and songs that were never released as singles, b-sides, in addition to the major hits. His rendition of Elephants and Flowers brought a tear to my eye.
“Love the 1 who is love
the 1 that gives us the power
the 1 that made everything
Elephants & Flowers”
Right after, he ordered someone to turn the house lights on and I cringed. I didn’t want the people around me to see that tear going down my cheek.
He spoke, amazed the audience, he made us stand up, sing, clap, laugh, cry and dance. He played his early stuff, Do Me Baby, I Wanna Be Your Lover, and played material from throughout his career.
I heard Black Sweat, Kiss, he sang Take Me With U but in between verses he pretended he was writing it and also made fun of his own lyrics.
He asked:“How DO you touch a place in a person that call’s out names?”
He was commenting on his lyric:
“Come on and touch
this place in me
that’s calling out ur name”
and then he pretended to wonder where to go next with the lyric writing.
He talked about his father’s piano, which no one else was allowed to play in his father’s presence. Prince could only practice on it when dad was gone. He said he had learned how to play by watching his father play and because he wanted to impress his mother.
There was a bluesy U Got the Look. He played Cream and actually screwed up on the lyrics but recovered. He sang “Ur so good..” at the beginning of the verse where he was supposed to sing “Do Ur dance“. He had already sung the ‘Ur so good” verse by this part so he couldn’t repeat it. He made up for the error by repeating a couple of times “Ur so good” and then said:
“I wrote this in front of the mirror. Maybe that’s why I always get stuck on that verse. What I should’ve said was…
Do Ur dance, why should u wait any longer?
Take a chance, it could only make U stronger”
He had a tablet in front of him, laying on the body of the piano, and he would swipe the screen on the tablet in between playing notes, seeing pages with the lyrics.
Prince did a little medley of songs with some beats and samples. He sang Hot Thing & you better believe that everyone was on their feet!
“Montreal! Do u wanna party with me?”
He sang I Would Die 4 U, Bob Marley’s ‘Wait in Vain’ mixed with his own lyrics and music. Nothing Compares 2 U… and Purple Rain.
Wow!!! (Not the song “wow”, just wow it was amazing)
The show lasted just about two hours and went by like a breeze. It was incredible from beginning to end. It was Prince’s music, raw, some songs in arrangements I never imagined I would hear.
One man on stage, a piano and a microphone, and the man was Prince.
P.S. If that wasn’t enough, all the audience got a cd copy of the new Prince album “HitnrRun Phase two” on the way out. It’s funk with Prince and the N.P.G. and it’s excellent.
Cover photo by Greg Gallagher