Monday, June 21, 2004

And When it Comes to Love He is a Junkie

OK so I get it now. There absolutely is a God. Bee4, I intuitively understood God was love and inspiration and all things we deem beautiful. The realization that came to me this week is God is that special ability existing within, granting us the grateful ability to appreciate all things beautiful and inspirational and despite the pain so often involved, worth loving in the end.

Prince's show at the Xcel Energy Center Wednesday was nothing short (insert your own Napoleon complex and high heel joke here) of uplifting and astounding. I've been called a lot of adjectives over the years but I'm not sure anyone has ever accused me of being funky in any way, shape, or form. Yet coming home after the show I for one was proof positive that Prince lived up to the promise he made at the beginning of the show- that all of us would leave the place changed people. I indeed had been funked.

He rocked, he rolled, he rhythmed and blued, he danced, and above all he quite charismatically made the point (exclamation at that) that he is one talented little M.F. Opening with a tight pristine version of "Musicology," the music and energy never stopped from the beginning of the night until the end. The joy of music making seems to ooze out of him like a heavenly bodily fluid and he was rather engaging all night, acknowledging several times being "home" (although he sometimes indicated he was in Minneapolis and not its Twin City). In one song he recounted a conversation with a telemarketer and he said he would do his best Minnesota impression, taking a message that ended in a convincing "U Betcha!"

Over the years I've probably admired Prince just as much for his attitude as much as I have for his music. For me he hasn't always had a lot of interesting things to say but he's always had the knack of saying what he needs to say in an interesting way. His stubborn defiance at constantly striving to be inscrutable has probably cost him professionally over the years. But his talent remains undeniable- he's a great musician, songwriter, singer, entertainer and performer quite deserving of the self proclaimed moniker of being an Artist.

Case in point: the non stop funk of the first half of the show ended with a magnificent extended jam coda to "Controversy." Always the showman Prince stopped his dancing, walked to a plank between two edges of the cross shaped stage, sat down in a lounge chair and picked up a copy of a recent Rolling Stone with his picture on the cover, and an article entitled, "Burning Down the House." As he rejoined the band with a virtuoso guitar solo he nearly lived up to the billing of the article. And the smile/slight smirk on his face indicated he knew exactly what he was doing.

The second half of the show opened with a set of songs performed soulfully solo and acoustically. Prince's sly humor shined brightly throughout as he led the crowd through sing-song versions of some of his best known hits like "Little Red Corvette," "Raspberry Beret," (perhaps my all-time favorite Prince song), and "Cream," (perhaps my second all-time favorite Prince song). "Alphabet St."? Get out!

The absolute highlight of the show however was when he plugged his guitar back in and proceeded with a powerful, eclectic, and electrifying version of "Sign o' the Times." The intensity of the lyrics were matched by the vitality of the performance. I loved his vocals on the song- deep, resonant, and provocative. (He added a local reference ad-libbing the line, "Let's fall in love, get married, have a baby/We'll call him... Kevin Garnett.")

Other highlights were a tribute to Ray Charles (beginning by singing a little of "Georgia on My Mind," segueing into a heartfelt "What'd I Say") and "Call My Name" a song from his current CD Musicology. I couldn't help but breathe in the irony of the lyrics, "I can't stop writing songs about you," that rang rather true following a conversation I had earlier in the day with the Dime Piece Beauty with a Bangin' Booty who told me she didn't want me writing about her in the newsletter. (So of course I had to Puffy Lip and all.)

The encore featured a crowd pleasing version of "Purple Rain" that touched me in another uniquely personal way. Prince wanted people to do the one hand slowly waving about the head like they did when he performed the song in the movie. The move of course is quite reminiscent of what my cat Thompson does as he stretches out and rolls around the ground. To see so many people doing the Thompson was quite amusing. At the end of the performance of "Purple Rain" Prince left the stage by pointing towards his heart and shaking his head and pointing up above. The gesture indicated his highness astutely knows for sure where all that came before ultimately comes from. God bless him, I say, parenthetically so.

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