Date: May 2011
Venue: The Forum
City: Los Angeles, CA
Photo Courtesy NPG Records
Written by Michelle Oberg
Have you ever seen a Chupacabra? Us either, but thanks to live shows, video archives and relentless paparazzi, this could-be mythical beast is very real and took residence in Los Angeles for a 21 night show at The Forum. The very private and anti-camera man…symbol…legend that was once The Artist Formerly Known As (and now back to just "Prince") opted to play his hits (and then some) with his never-ending catalog for the near month-long stint. As an eccentric visionary who needs no introduction, Prince brought along some of the old gang and his heyday idols to, yet again, leave his fans foaming at the mouth with his sexy sorcery and power of persuasion.
Grammy nominated Janelle Monae opened the evening's act and continued to make appearances throughout the night for Prince's two encore, 28-song set. The adorable afro-punker not only has a set of pipes, but a pair of shoes to match. Dancing with the best of them, the 25-year-old super-star-in-the-making teamed up with the right man.
Prince entered through the middle of his symbol-designed stage floor to a standing ovation; wearing what you would expect. His bell bottoms swayed with his stride and his heeled shoes danced their way around the platform the moment the band played his first tune, "D.M.S.R." He brought along three back-up vocalists and two dancers; all women who changed outfits more times than an Oscar's host.
Early in the show, homage paid to Stevie Wonder put patrons a little closer to having rumors confirmed of his guest appearance. That moment came during encore one as Stevie entered the stage with Prince on one side and the insanely glamorous, original band member, Sheila E on the other. The trio—Sheila on skins—rocked the house with "Superstition."
The non-stop dancing (not just by the artist himself) was fueled by hits like "Musicology," "1999," "Purple Rain" and "Pop Life." Between battling instrumentals were beautifully long solos played by each musician and vocals that have only gotten better with age; this night's performance left some in tears. Perfecting the pitch changes of highs, lows and embellished vocalizations, this was the Prince concert you've waited twenty years to see. Gone are the times when he reinvents himself with alter egos and vocal tones to match each persona. Surprisingly enough, Prince, who doesn't let people cover HIS songs, covered everything from Sheila E's "Glamorous Life" to "Play That Funky Music" by Wild Cherry—all of which were done with his own personalization and truly talented techniques.
With a guitar strapped on his shoulder and fingers sliding down the frets, you'd have expected to see Santana or George Harrison on stage the way those notes cried. Smiling throughout the whole show, Prince showed no signs of wear and tear, or ever slowing down. You have to respect a man who respects his peers; he equally shared the stage allowing his back-up singers to have their moment during the cover song "Which Way is Up?" where they belted out the tune as Prince played guitar. At one point, he exited the stage for 10 minutes, letting the saxophonist, percussionist, bass player and guitar player share their time serenading the crowd.
Prince has been inspired by many people and artists, but many more have been inspired by Prince. Spending a night amongst the greatest talent in the world was a dream. Smoke slowly moved across the stage like a heated pool on a chilly summer night as white cloth-like fabrics fell from the ceiling and canons blasted out purple confetti for a perfect end to a perfect evening.
For more info and news of future tour dates: good luck—he travels his information via word of mouth, so while he sticks to that you can stick to sleuthing the information super highway. Perhaps you, too, can be blessed with his presence in a city near you.
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