Friday, April 22, 2016

That one time I saw Prince

Escaping the 80's without having at least one memory aurally imprinted with a Prince song (or songs) seems nearly impossible. I remember when a babysitter was with us one evening and she had just bought the 1999 album. She hid the record sleeve with the lyrics because she said they were too racy. I snuck into the living room when she was making dinner and scanned it but didn't come up with much. I think I was 8 years old. A few years later, someone bought me Purple Rain and it became one of my favorite cassette tapes to listen to. I did wonder what Wendy and Lisa were doing in "Computer Blue" though. 


Yes Lisa
Is the water warm enough?
Yes Lisa
Shall we begin?
Yes Lisa

Seriously, what business does a 10-year-old have listening to that? Anyway...but the rest of the album was great. So flash forward to 1995 and as a 21-year-old away at college in London, I got to see his Royal Purpleness at Wembley and somehow managed to sit close to the stage.

Unfortunately this was during the "Slave period" where he'd write the word on his face because he didn't like the terms of his contract with Warner Bros. As a result, he was disinclined to play "hits" during concerts and while I enjoyed Prince music, I wasn't intimately familiar with the deep cuts. Thus, I wanted to hear at least some hits but the only songs I recognized that night were "Most Beautiful Girl in the World," "7," and "Pussy Control." Unfortunately, his musicianship (which I should have been paying more attention to) went mostly ignored. Ah, to be 21...

Looking at my journal from that time period, my review was pretty brutal:

"The show itself was second rate. Though we were only 11 rows from stage center, Prince failed to ignite the crowd. Probably this is due to all the new songs. But we all know how lame English crowds are." [Note: The steady reserve of concert-going Brits was not a mark of distinction in this case.]

I had even less nice things to say about the backup dancer who would later become his wife (for a few years at least).

"The almost naked wench on stage with him disgusted all of London when she whipped her ass cheeks all over the place. Yuk! She grew tiresome."

But it's still Motherf***ing Prince. And he is funky.
"I had a great time [though] getting into the fervor of it all. At the end, he showered us in gold confetti and that was beautiful."

Not every performance can be a winner and not every era in an entertainer/artist's long career will be inspiring but in the long view, Prince's contribution to the fabric of our culture and its musical development was epic. So I'll remember the awe and surprise of gold confetti raining down on us during the finale, a symbol of the ostentatiousness, surprise and boldness of our musical host.

He was so many things: talented, driven, gifted and luckily he shared it with the world. RIP to the prolifically funky virtuoso.

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