I feel like I’ve been floating on a bit of a cloud since Sunday night. Not even a workload so heavy that I haven’t been able to write up a review until now has been able to penetrate my post-concert haze. That is the feeling you get when you leave one of the very best concerts you’ve ever seen. That’s how I feel after witnessing the first State Theatre show of Prince’s Piano and a Microphone tour.
In true rock star style, Prince had us waiting half an hour after the time the show was scheduled to start before gracing us with his presence. Despite sitting alone, a result of the very strict two-limit ticket that forced my party of three to split up, I didn’t feel lonely. I was surrounded by amazing people whose enthusiasm for the Purple One matched my own. As we recounted tales of tours past and watched the officious security guards enforcing the “no photos” rule, the time flew. Certainly all was forgiven by the time the words, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate this thing we call life” echoed from the speakers. Prince stood dramatically in silhouette at the back of the stage, pausing for applause before taking his place at the piano and launching into “Let’s Go Crazy,” a rollicking good time which set the tone for the evening.
This was exactly the intimate show I was hoping for. With just his voice, a kaleidoscopic projection screen, and a piano with synchronised synth strings triggered by the keys to give some songs a little more depth, Prince put on a show that reinforced what a special artist he is. The set list spanned the breadth of his discography, from early 80s songs like “Controversy” to “RockNRoll LoveAffair” and “Black Muse,” two songs from his new album HitNRun Phase Two. Covers of “Stand!” from Sly and the Family Stone and “A Case of You” from Joni Mitchell paid tribute to his influences.
Prince has always been an enigmatic figure, but I felt the walls came down on this tour. His version of “Love Thy Will Be Done,” which he wrote for Martika, was truly breathtaking. “I Love U In Me” was just as sexy as we all hoped it would be. We squealed with delight as Prince invited a dancing female fan up on stage to groove by his piano during “Raspberry Beret.” He again called for dancing reinforcements during “Kiss,” when he spotted a young boy boogying with some of the fastest feet I’ve ever seen. I was sure he might trip over as he danced frenetically to the obvious amusement of the Purple One. He invited us to sing the backup parts for “Cream,” and admonished us playfully when we would sing off key or encroach on his parts, insisting we’d need to start that bit again.
After seeing Prince perform with a full band in 2012, it was so exciting to see him bring a different complexion to these songs. There was a wistfulness about “I Could Never Take the Place Of Your Man” that I’d never heard before. “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore” had a soul that had me stamping my feet in appreciation. I’ve always considering Prince one of the most underappreciated guitarists of our time, but he’s also breathtaking on the piano. I marvelled as “The Question of U” morphed into Beethoven’s “Fur Elise.” On his third and final encore, Prince treated us to “Purple Rain,” the perfect song to close out an incredible night.
I have never spent $400 on a concert ticket before and I listened to plenty of people who said I was mad to do it this time. But this show was worth every single cent. I expected something magical for the price, and Prince delivered in spades. I feel so blessed to have been in the audience of this very special show, one of the very best I have ever seen and am likely to see.
Image source: own photo