Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Prince @ Madison Square Garden, January 18, 2011
This is not a typo. I'm officially a legit fan of the purple! This is the second time on Prince's "Welcome 2 America" Tour that I've seen him, and this time I had the home court advantage, Madison Square Garden. There were to be a couple things done differently at this second installment of Prince, but one thing was still the same as before, the tickets were free! It would appear that I've mastered the art of seeing Prince, music living legend, for free. Maybe I'm just lucky, but winning 2 sets of Prince tickets may be a bit more than luck.
Here was difference #1: my original winning tickets, to his show in December at the Izod Center in New Jersey, were well placed tickets, in the middle section of the center, facing the front of the stage. This was great because I managed to see the whole stage from where I was, but I wasn't really far away, it was nice. Those seats were great. The seats I won to the MSG version however, were a bit closer. I was four rows away from the stage. Now this sounds great, and it definitely was, but the stage is built very high (tall) and it's pretty hard to see what's going on without standing, which of course, is not a problem for me.
Then there is difference #2: the set list. This of course was to be expected, because Prince changes set lists the same way people change clothes, everyday. The first change was in the opening act, which for last night's show, was the great funky sound of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. If you've never heard these guys before, you should definitely check them out, you are in for a treat. If you love jazz and funk mixed with soul pop, like you probably should, then you will love these guys. Sharon is a very energetic performer, wearing a dress with tassels like Tina Turner would wear, and dancing much like she would dance. She has a great voice and a great stage presence, and she's backed by a very musically talented band, who have an amazing sound. These guys were an awesome opener. Unlike my NJ show, which had two opening acts, The Dap Kings were the only performers before the man Prince took the stage. This I would guess made for more time for us to spend with the legend.
He came right out and started with a very teasing medley of tracks, starting off with my favorite Prince song of all time, When Doves Cry. I started screaming like a little girl when the opening drums started, only for him to stop 6 seconds into it and start off the beginning of some other songs. Apparently this is called the Purple Medley, consisting of very small snippets of a lot of his hits: Pop Life, Sign of the Times, Nasty Girl, Darling Nikki, and some other hits. After giving the capacity crowd a good and proper tease fest he jumped right into Kiss. Not a bad start if I do say so myself. He brought out twin girls who were his back up dancers. They looked like younger versions of Alicia Keys, as my friend who went with me described them.
I suppose the best way to go through this set would be to cover all the songs he did that he didn't do during my NJ show. He went through a really cool segment of his more funky tracks like Cool, Cream, and Let's Work. He slowed things down by leaving, and his backup singers returned and did an unbelievable rendition of Arms of the Angel. I didn't realize they had such amazing voices until then. He came back out to do Somewhere Here on Earth and She's Always in my Hair. He of course "finished" the show with Purple Rain, which one would assume is the one song that he MUST do every night. He then made his first exit.
His first encore consisted of A Love Bizarre, which he followed up with leaving again. He made his triumphant return a second time to do a few tracks he did at the NJ show: If I was Your Girlfriend, Insatiable, and of course Scandalous. He then left yet again, only to return in the fashion he arrived at the NJ show in: Dearly Beloved! It was time for us to go Crazy, which was great because right after that he decided that we should party like it was 1999. It was awesome because during one of these encores, he came on with Sharon Jones, The Dap Kings and the incomparable Maceo Parker (who was performing with Prince at different intervals during the night). The show finally finished with a version of Peach, which may have been on his 4th encore, I can't even remember! After he left this time, everyone stayed, thinking he was teasing us again. The funny thing was, after a while they finally turned the house lights on. Which of course led to a lot of people leaving. Now they tried to do this at the show in NJ, but the vast majority of us stayed, and Prince actually came back out and played some more songs with all the lights on. This was NOT the case at MSG, because as soon as the lights came on the stage crew started taking stuff down. That's usually the best sign that someone is not coming back.
I suppose the best thing to do is compare the two shows to figure out which one I liked more. I had ridiculous fun at both shows, but I'm willing to say that I liked the set at the NJ show more (I must admit, he did almost every song I love of his besides a couple) but I liked the vibe of the MSG show more. So I suppose, a tie?! You can't go wrong seeing Prince live, and if you're in NYC you have one last chance to do it at MSG, on February 7th. I would go if I were you. Who knows, with my luck I may even see you there!