San Jose, CA
May 19, 2011
Prince: His Purple Best
When Prince started his Thursday night performance in San Jose with "1999," I had a feeling that it was going to be a good concert. Not only because it's a damn fun song, but also because the party, oops, is over, out of time today when the rapture arrives at 6 pm. (Of course, it is already passed 6 pm in most of Europe so no real rush to post this review.) Prince was at his Purple best playing hit after hit. His brand of Minneapolis funk and pop may sound dated given the mash-up, hip-hop, Lady Gaga world of 2011 but, the setlist of megahits and his performance prove that baby, he's a star.
It's been quite some time since I last saw a concert at a large arena. I guess Dave Matthews last year is the closest to the high-tech lights, large screens and confetti canons of arena shows that sometimes make me feel like the spectacle is to compensate for the music. However, for this Prince performance, I felt like the music held up to the production. Prince was backed up by the very talented Revolution and a consistently revolving collection of singers and dancers. The show on Thursday night was not sold out but Prince's fans are dedicated (incl. purple shirts, jackets, raspberry berets and Prince tattoos) and noisy.
Good fan appreciation always adds to the excitement of a show and when unannounced guest Sheila E came out and played her big hit "The Glamorous Life," the ovation was loud and long.
After "1999," Prince played "Little Red Corvette," "The Beautiful Ones," "Raspberry Beret," "Take Me With U," Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough," "Erotic City," "You Got the Look"(made famous by Sheena Easton) and ended with "Let's Go Crazy" which segued into "Delirious" and then back again. For almost every song, Prince changed outfits and during "Purple Rain," the aforementioned canons, shot plumes of
purple confetti that rained purple over the crowd. One odd song selection was when the backup singers gathered around the piano for a cover of Bob Dylan's "Make You Feel My Love." Perhaps, a nod to their shared Minnesota roots.
Prince is also well known for extensive encores and he didn't
disappoint here either. He played 4 encores including a medley of hits that included "When Doves Cry," "Darling Nikki," and "Sign O The Times." I found the medley to be a bit of a tease since these songs were shortened when I wanted to hear extended versions. I suppose when you have 32 albums and as many hits, sacrifices have to be made. The final song of the night was a rousing version of one his funkiest best, "Kiss."
Prince is not a deep, existential performer writing melancholy songs for coffee-shop performances. These are party songs for party peeps to dance to and that's exactly what Prince delivered. Overall, a very fun night.