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Photo by Allen Beaulieu / Ripped out of Rock & Soul magazine about a million years ago

So, about that concert I went to the other night…

I would have written up a little review yesterday when everything was still fresh in my mind, but I’ve been outrageously work-busy and just didn’t have the time or energy. I want to make sure I document the experience, though, because it was truly phenomenal.

I know I say this every time I post a reaction to a movie or album or book, but I always feel lame writing “reviews”. My instinct is usually to let the work stand on its own instead of picking it apart, but at the same time, I like to share my feelings about stuff I love. I just think I come off like a goofball (um, I’m pretty sure using words like “goofball” doesn’t help…) trying to sound like I have some kind of insight but failing miserably. Honestly, I don’t know how professional critics sleep at night.

So yeah, the Prince concert was AMAZING. Like, super ridiculously so.

By some miracle (probably because I was only buying a single ticket), I managed to score a seat on the floor in the front row behind the “fancy people” section, right by the tip of the love symbol-shaped stage. Given that my last eight or so attempts at buying Prince tickets have resulted in utter failure (I refuse to go through brokers), I felt like the luckiest girl in the world walking closer…closer…closer…until I found my seat number! I was even able to hang my coat and bag on the barricade in front of me. Nice!

I admit I had a wee bit of trepidation about seeing Prince in 2011. Since becoming a Jehovah’s Witness about ten years ago, he’s stopped playing his more sexually explicit songs and no longer swears (Cee Lo Green, who opened the show, had to let the audience sing the chorus to his big hit with the really great video—there were even signs on the stage reminding him, “NO F-WORD”), and since we’re talking about someone who arguably built his career on being about as dirty as they come, I kind of had to wonder what we’d be left with.

Well, I need not have worried. Incredibly, Prince has managed to turn his decision to not play certain songs as a means to tease the audience into getting completely crazy. For example, I was sure he wouldn’t play “If I Was Your Girlfriend” (one of my favorite songs ever), but he did! He started and stopped until the crowd was screaming for more, then said he couldn’t continue (“You don’t understand, if I keep playing this, someone’s gonna get pregnant!”)…but then he did continue, at least to a point—he segued into another song just as he was getting to the nasty bits. So no, it’s not like he was up there playing “Sister” in a pair of bikini briefs, but it was definitely still a Prince concert. I mean, let’s face it, the guy could do nothing but covers of John Denver songs and they’d still come off as being super hot. Prince can’t fight the sexy. Not that he’s trying.

Watching Prince play guitar is a lot like watching Michael Jackson dance. It seems so totally effortless, like the sound is just naturally coming out him and there’s nothing he can do to stop it. I’m not one of those people who gets all crazy about guitar solos and stuff like that, and maybe that’s why I’ve always loved Prince’s style. He’s just doing his thing up there, all natural and fluid and full of emotion. The guitar is an extension of him. Magic. No matter how many times I’ve watched him perform live in movies and on TV, nothing can compare to being 20 feet away and seeing it all happen right in front of me.

Oh, the setlist! Including the main set and three encores, Prince played the following (in whole or in part): Laydown, 1999, Little Red Corvette, The Beautiful Ones (with a ballet performance by Misty Copeland), Controversy, Purple Rain, Raspberry Beret, Cream, Cool (with Questlove on percussion), Let’s Work, U Got the Look, Nothing Compares 2 U, Crazy (with Cee Lo), Let’s Go Crazy, Delirious, Dreamer, When Doves Cry, Kiss, Nasty Girl, Forever in My Life, Sign “☮” the Times, Alphabet Street, Love Bizarre, Hot Thing, Pop Life, I Would Die 4 U, Single Ladies, If I Was Your Girlfriend, Insatiable, Scandalous, Adore, Mountains (♡♡♡!), Shake Your Body (Down to the Ground), Everyday People, and Higher. PHEW!

There’s been a lot of talk about Prince giving Kim Kardashian (please let this be the only time her name is on this blog) the boot for not dancing after being invited on stage to do so, and this post on Dlisted sums up the whole episode quite nicely. I mean, I guess I feel a little badly for her, but seriously? I dance like Elaine Benes, but you had better believe I’d have been working it hard if Prince had brought me up there with him! Prince did make a quip afterward about America being a country “where a girl can get famous for doing absolutely nothing”, and I guess he has a point.

As long as I’m talking about Prince, I’d like to take a minute to thank my mother for letting me listen to the music I wanted to when I was a kid. And for being cool with me having posters of a half-naked man plastered all over my bedroom. Oh, and for letting me paint ALL of my furniture purple and black. (No, really. I honestly did that.) The mid-’80s were the heyday of the PMRC and their “Filthy Fifteen” (the top two of which were written by Prince—though I could never really understand their fixation on “Darling Nikki”; I mean, he’s written plenty of much dirtier stuff), and the prevailing attitude was that we were all going to be driven to Hell by the likes of Sheena Easton and Cyndi Lauper, and only Tipper Gore could save us. (Thank goodness for Frank Zappa, ever the voice of reason.) Frankly, I can’t imagine my childhood being Prince-free. Those would have been some quiet and unfunky years.

Prince was my first big musical obsession; the first artist that got me interested in the idea of collecting, of seeking out rarities, of swapping bootlegs, and of looking for more than what was readily available. I also had a hardcore crush on Prince that put my earlier childhood crushes (namely Kermit the Frog and Michael Jackson) to shame. I know guys don’t always get why the ladies like Prince so much, but the man is 98 pounds of fiiiiiine. Then and now. He’s a freaky alien, for sure, but aren’t all of the best musicians?

I’m sorry that it took so long for me to get myself to a Prince concert, but at least it finally happened. My coat pockets are still full of purple confetti—and no, that’s not a metaphor.

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49 Comments

  • Reply Michelle February 9, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    I saw him a few years ago and it was one of the best concerts I’ve ever been to. He played bits and pieces of Darling Nikki with a contortionist doing her thing behind a screen and it was fabulous. He’s such an amazing entertainer that your eyes (and ears of course) are glued the entire concert.

  • Reply danielle February 9, 2011 at 1:01 pm

    i was so delighted to read this! i saw prince on the musicology tour with my dad (both of us being die-hards) and it was the most incredible concert-going experience of my life thus far. everybody should have the opportunity to see him at least once! he’s an amazing entertainer… and a sexy em-effer!

  • Reply Julia February 9, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    I’m so glad you had a good time. I saw him about a month or two ago in NY and he was AMAZING. Not that I expected anything less…

  • Reply ashley February 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    That’s great that he still plays most of his older stuff. I’ve always been hesitant to pay a ton for tickets because he also lost me about 15 years ago.

  • Reply Samantha February 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm

    Oh my word what an amazing setlist! I’m glad you had fun (but how could you not?). I’m not up on the latest Prince news, but do you know if he still/ever plays Diamonds and Pearls? A couple of days ago I was remembering when I was 11 or 12 and I thought it was the world’s most romantic song. I wonder if it still is, hm.

  • Reply Katie Jones February 9, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    Thanks for the set list! Wow sounds like an amazing time! It’s so cool that you scored such great seats! There is no one like Prince; he’s in his own category.
    So happy you got to experience one of your musical obsessions in such a wonderful way.

  • Reply victoria February 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    so awesome you saw him. and it sounds like he’s just as clever and entertaining as ever.

  • Reply jenn February 9, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    You don’t give yourself enough credit. That was an amazing review. I’ve never even been interested in Prince, and I now want to go see a concert and listen to his music again! Great post!

    • Reply Anna @ D16 February 9, 2011 at 2:49 pm

      Thanks, Janet! I do always feel like a dork when I’m writing stuff like this, but if it makes you want to get funky, then I guess I’m doing something right. 😉

  • Reply janet February 9, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    Wow. I can seriously feel the excitement you felt through your review. I’m suddenly sad I missed purchasing tickets to see him in Dallas years back.
    I’ve always loved Prince too, and no one I know ever gets it. It’s nice to read of someone who feels the same way!

    • Reply Anna @ D16 February 9, 2011 at 2:47 pm

      Keep an eye out for additional Welcome 2 America dates…I’m hoping more will be added!

  • Reply Shilo February 9, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Shaun and I were also worried that his set would be a little lacking with the exclusion of all his dirtier work, but yeah, not so much. It’s easy to forget with an artist that prolific that he could slash his catalog down by 9/10ths and still have an amazing 3-hour show’s worth of songs left to perform.

    Great review Anna, I feel SO LUCKY to have been there and seen the magic. The gold, sparkly magic.

    If additional dates are added I am *totally* going back for more.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 February 9, 2011 at 3:15 pm

      The gold sparkly outfit was amazing, and I love how he mixed it up by changing into a gold ruffled top but keeping the sparkly pants. Such versatile pieces! 😉

      Also, can I just say that I’m in love with Shelby Johnson? She has so much energy, she’s ferocious! And each of her thighs is the size of Prince’s entire body. Love, love, love.

      • Reply Shilo February 9, 2011 at 3:23 pm

        YES. She was incredible!
        Talk about body confidence! Just watching her walk around made me feel like an asshole for ever once complaining about my hair or thighs. Lady is a *powerhouse*

  • Reply Deborah February 9, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    Oh boy, that set list gave me butterflies. I still remember the month long buzz after seeing Prince live back in 2003. He is the epitome of an artist. Oh that encore; when he returned, just him and the piano.

    Loved this post Anna. Please go to Prince concerts more often.

  • Reply ModFruGal February 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    Nice review…and thanks for the set list…I don’t know why more reviews don’t give that bit of GOLD. It’s what everyone really wants to know! Also glad to know if I see him now, it WILL be every bit as good as when I saw him on the Purple Rain tour.. a lifetime ago.

  • Reply Annie Markantonatou February 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    SO JEALOUS!! teenage years.amazing music.

  • Reply Katrien February 9, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    In the last two years I’ve seen Prince twice, once during an open air concert (including rain streaming down while he was singing Purple rain) and once in a big concert hall. 52 and he still got the funk & sex appeal!!

    But there’s something I can’t understand….you had SEATS?
    How did you manage to get through the entire concert on a chair?! :/

    • Reply Anna @ D16 February 9, 2011 at 4:44 pm

      Oh, I didn’t sit! I stood up and danced the whole time. 🙂

      Madison Square Garden is a huge arena with seats. Nobody really sits in the chairs at concerts, though, that’s just so you know where your spot is!

  • Reply Malinowich February 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Came across this quote when youtube:ing Prince-clips last night:
    “People think I wear high heels, because I’m short. I just wear them because the ladies love them.”

    Got to love him!

  • Reply Debra February 9, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    Anna, I understand that you feel goofy doing reviews but I got chills when I was reading this so I think that you conveyed the essence of a Prince concert pretty darn well. I’ve never seen him live but have been enthralled with him since 9th grade. Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply Monica February 9, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Way Cool!
    p.s. I remember running around in lace cut-off gloves my sophomore year in High School.

  • Reply Grumble Girl February 9, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    “I know guys don’t always get why the ladies like Prince so much, but the man is 98 pounds of fiiiiiine.” Dude. Duuuuuuuuude. I KNOW!!

    I’m so freaking stoked and thrilled for you that you go to go!! Nice review, too… one day, I’ll get my own turn. Le sigh.

  • Reply julia wheeler February 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    love love love this re-cap and so jealous you got to see him! i don’t know that i could ever explain why prince is sexy to any other man… he just is… all 98 pounds of him!

  • Reply kristen b February 9, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    I so *get* what you’re saying about writing reviews-I feel exactly the same way. I see a lot of bands and friends are constantly telling me I should blog about it or write reviews and I’m paralyzed. Don’t you worry about sounding like a goofball, ever—your review is terrific! I also love that you thanked your mom for letting you listen to what you wanted to listen to growing up! So true. My mom did the same and often embraced it. To this day, if we’re in the car and a Cure song comes on the radio, she’ll say: Is that my friend Robert Smith? (she’s 65) Yay moms! Yay Prince! And please, more ‘nerdstalgia’ tagged posts!

  • Reply mommy February 9, 2011 at 9:30 pm

    I knew you would come out okay even though I let you hang that poster in your room!
    I miss the days of Prince and The Cure.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 February 9, 2011 at 9:47 pm

      I see you didn’t mention the fact that I also painted my walls purple. I forgot about that when I brought up the furniture! 🙂

      You would have loved the concert last night. Next time I’m dragging you along with me!

  • Reply donna February 9, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    Great review. I agree with you on all points. I saw him a few years ago and even from the shitty seats I had a great time. He put on one of the best shows I’ve been to. The other band I would say I would see again and again live is Depeche Mode. Dave Gahan can wiggle his hips like nobody else.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 February 9, 2011 at 9:52 pm

      I’ve seen Depeche Mode a few times, and I definitely agree!

  • Reply jennifer_in_sf February 9, 2011 at 9:59 pm

    Oh man, that sounds amazing!! I’m really hoping there are some West Coast concerts. Fingers crossed.

  • Reply Emily February 10, 2011 at 5:48 am

    I know exactly what you mean about the music pouring out of him. I went to a Prince concert in 2005 (6 friends and I wore raspberry berets. I still have mine somewhere.) and to this day I can’t remember being so singularly impressed with focus not on spectacle, but on being a really, really good musician. There was a little spectacle in that he was wearing high-heeled cowboy boots and only the HEELS were covered in RHINESTONES. He’s an inspiration to me in so many ways.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 February 10, 2011 at 9:51 am

      I was actually pretty surprised by the LACK of spectacle, too. No dancers (other than his backup singers, but that’s different), no choreography, no crazy fog machines or pyrotechnics…just awesome MUSIC. That’s what I want! Of course I’m a BIG fan of musicians dressing fabulously and not wearing their street clothes on stage (of course, Prince’s “street clothes” are by all accounts pretty darned fabulous), but at the end of the day, it’s the music that matters.

      Near the end of the concert, he thanked his band and made reference to “real music by real musicians”. Noted and appreciated…

  • Reply Jacqui February 10, 2011 at 6:10 am

    I follow your blog from my semi-renovated cottage in Melbourne’s west, I really love seeing pictures of your amazing house and catching up with Fritz and Bruno (I have a Frenchie named Violet so now I’m a Crazy Dog Lady). I LOVED your review of Prince – it sounded spectacular. Wish he’d come to Australia! Keep up the great blogging…..

  • Reply Sara February 10, 2011 at 11:35 am

    I am goosebumps from head to toe! I’m so happy you finally got to see Prince live. No, he certainly doesn’t disappoint!

  • Reply Kirsten February 10, 2011 at 11:47 am

    You’ve seen this: http://bit.ly/g7ANBv, right? Best guitar solo ever, for reals.
    He’s like a crazy wizard.

    Also, parents that (1) actually talk with their kids and (2) let them make a lot of their own choices are the best. Big ups to my own mom and dad who, mostly, knew what battles actually mattered and what did not, especially my mama-la who sang along to PJ Harvey’s Rid of Me (“Lick my lips, I’m on fire…”) when asked to one night in the car when I was fifteen.

    • Reply Anna @ D16 February 10, 2011 at 12:39 pm

      I have seen that, but not since it was first broadcast, so thank you for linking to it! I love George Harrison, and I love that Prince paid tribute to him. The fact that Prince does so little of that kind of thing makes it all the more meaningful when he does, you know? And it’s never too much. I hate when guitarists are up there going nuts trying to show off how awesome they are, but it all seems so contrived and almost like a separate piece of music rather than a part of the whole. Prince is always thinking about the entire piece and how everything fits together. (Again, this is so similar to the way that Michael Jackson approached dancing. It was never a spectacle in itself, but something to enhance the overall performance. Nothing gratuitous.)

      I love what he’s wearing, too.

  • Reply Fiona February 10, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Don’t know what kickstarted your Prince crush but I know mine was when he crawled naked across the floor in the When Doves Cry video. *Formative childhood experience!!* Wasn’t too impressed though when he cancelled his Dublin concert six days beforehand though. Glad (and jealous) you got to see him live. What a massive talent.

  • Reply Nicole February 10, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I had this discussion re: Prince’s sexiness with a male friend recently. They really just cannot understand it, can they? Even I don’t understand it. He just is what he is. Meaning “really really hot.”

    I like a man in good heels though. What can I say? Have you ever played the Ace Attorney videogame series? There’s a character in it who’s a magician and he’s like a mashup of Prince and David Bowie and every gloriously androgynous fame whore imaginable, I love him so much. Every time he came on screen I’d go 😀

    Bonus: when his sprite gets the requisite Ace Attorney “freakout” animation his false eyelashes fall off one eye. Classic.

  • Reply Indigo February 10, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    OMG! I want to go a Prince concert!!!! That sounds fantastic!

  • Reply robin Denning February 10, 2011 at 9:39 pm

    great review – it makes me feel like I was there.
    I love Prince, too.

  • Reply Lori E. February 10, 2011 at 10:52 pm

    You ARE a good “review-er” (huh?) b/c I am not a Prince fan (please, don’t throw anything!) and now even I want to see him in concert! lol

  • Reply JC February 11, 2011 at 11:42 am

    I saw him in London a few years ago and even though we didn’t have seats as good as yours it was still amazing. He was my first musical obsession too and I still have my collection of cassettes and CDs in a box somewhere!
    The twins were dancing so I haven’t seen Shelby Johnson but she sounds awesome. I saw Mayte dancing for him years ago though and she did this belly dancing thing to a long intro to 7 which was just jaw dropping.
    He did a version of ‘Crazy’ which was amazing, as well as a set pretty similar to this one. He made me smile when he said something about all the record industry people getting fat and ugly then said ‘but I still look the same’! Yeah 52 and definitely knows he’s still got it!

  • Reply Kerry @ Paper Dahlia February 11, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    Lucky you! Sounds like it was so much fun!! I scored amazing seats like that at a David Bowie concert and I’ll never forget it…

  • Reply Sandra@Botany's February 12, 2011 at 2:06 pm

    Oh how jealous I am… Prince in the 80’s was the first real concert I went to. I remember EVERY thing about it. So happy for you.

  • Reply decor8 Holly February 12, 2011 at 7:49 pm

    Just catching up on your lovely blog dear Anna and found this post and had to say something because I saw Prince too — back in the 90s when the Boston Garden was still called the Boston Garden, and he was A M A Z I N G. I often wondered what Prince 2011 would be like and your review was great — I loved it, it made me want to go see him again too.

  • Reply teresa February 17, 2011 at 8:05 am

    Anna, I know people who worked at his costume shop here in Minneapolis back in the early 90s. He was so big he had his own costume shop! It was sort of winding down then but sounded interesting. He even had a store here for a short time ( when he dropped his name for the symbol). There was a sort of family compound/studio out in the burbs too.

    I was in college in the 80s and as a fashion and costume student I just couldn’t ignore him- his style and talent. Damn, he was dirty, though!

    Sounds like you had a good time at the concert. It would be amazing to see him live.

  • Reply Daniele February 23, 2011 at 6:06 pm

    You are a fantastic reviewer. I share the love of Prince and was equally adoring as a teen. I’ve been sending your review to friends who are on the fence about attending his Oakland show. Part of me is like, if you are on the fence, then you don’t deserve to attend! 🙂 I went on Monday (2/21) night and was not disappointed.

  • Reply Yolanda February 25, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Anna, I went to 2 of the 3 Oakland concerts (2/21 and 2/24). The Bay Area guests were amazing too – Larry Graham. Carlos Santana. And the fabulously strong and sexy Sheila E. Nothing but respect for her.

    Last night was incredible! Let’s just say I’m on a funky purple cloud! Your review was spot-on.

    @Danielle, I agree – fence sitters need not apply!

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