Thursday, April 21, 2016

In Memory of Prince: A Review From 2013

We've had a lot of losses in the entertainment world recently, but I have to say this one hit me pretty hard. One of my personal favorites, Prince was a supremely talented artist, writer & producer, a consummate musician, and a superb guitarist. Few artists deserve the mantle of icon, but he truly earned them during his amazing career. In memory of this talented artist, here's a re-post of a review I wrote after seeing him back in 2013. RIP, Prince. Thanks for the music:

For the final show of his 3-night weekend residency at Mohegan Sun on December 29, Prince & some special guests brought the audience some soul, funk & old school R&B. After keeping the audience waiting almost an hour past the scheduled start time of 8pm, opening act Janelle Monae was wheeled out onto an asylum-like mini stage. She busted out of her strait-jacket to wow the crowd with a fantastic performance featuring songs from her recent release The Electric Lady. The early part of her set even included a cameo by Prince on the song “Givin’ Em What They Love,” where he said to the ecstatic crowd “I command you all to dance.” Monae powered through an energetic hour long set that included two excellent cover tunes: a wonderful version of The Jackson 5 classic “I Want You Back” and (in a ballsy move): a faithful take on Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy.” Monae is a talented singer whose look & sound channeled equal parts Michael Jackson, David Bowie, James Brown and a dash of 80s funk.

After Ms. Monae's set concluded, the audience expected our headliner to arrive. Instead, the lights went down and we heard a voice shouting, “My name is Doug E. Fresh and the party starts now!” The rapper played DJ & dance party host, spinning a generous helping of old school soul & rap classics, including Rappers DelightSeptemberThe Humpty DanceBrick House and more. Doug got the crowd dancing, cheering, laughing and singing along. Just when things were at a fever pitch, it was time for the main event: The Purple One himself.

Prince took the stage, proclaiming, “My name is Prince. I am not a cheap date. I am high maintenance” and for the next two hours we were treated to a phenomenal show mixing old & new material. Songs performed included “Let’s Work, Nothing Compares 2 U, 1999" and a rocked out, Led Zeppelin infused version of “Let’s Go Crazy.” The combined raw power, drive and instrumental & vocal artistry of the backing bands 3rd Eye Girl and New Power Generation was nothing short of amazing. In fact, every song was a musical highlight, as His Purple Majesty kept everyone enraptured with stunning readings of tunes such as a beautiful cover of The Soul Children’s “The Sweeter She Is” and a fantastic version of his own “U Got The Look.” He was in top form, and this show was a celebration of Prince's music & his power to thrill & entertain an audience. And by the way, the man can absolutely shred on guitar, as he proved on a spectacular version of "Something In The Water (Does Not Compute)."

You couldn’t help but dance, scream & shout all night long at this electric, supercharged concert. There were a total of 3 encores, including the classic “Purple Rain.” The final song of the night, “Plectrum Electrum,” was performed after the house lights had already come up & the audience was filing out of the venue! This sent many people rushing back inside to hear one more song from Prince. He's an iconic, multi-talented artist, and when he declared “This is MY house now,” no one at Mohegan Sun Arena disagreed.

This was one of the most memorable shows I've ever seen. Prince was a multi-talented, innovative, one of a kind artist. I'm saddened by his loss, not only for his family & friends, but for myself & the rest of his fans who'll never get to see him perform live again, or release any new music to dazzle us. Heaven just got a little more purple and a LOT more funky.

Prince's Set List from 12/29/13:
Big City
Nothing Compares To U
Let’s Work
U Got The Look
The Sweeter She Is
Something In The Water (Does Not Compute)
Let’s Go Crazy
When Doves Cry
Nasty Girl
Sign O’ The Times
Forever In My Life
Pop Life

Encore 1:
Purple Rain

Encore 2:
Take Me With U
Raspberry Beret
Cool (cover of The Time song, medley with Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough & other tunes) 
  – with special guest Doug E. Fresh

Encore 3:
Plectrum Electrum (performed after the house lights went up)

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