Sunday, 20 May 2012

Gig Review - Prince (18/05/12)

Live at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre
Review by Jo Michelmore

I received two reactions when I told people I was going to see Prince live. One reaction was of shock, “why would you want to see a has been like that?” The other of awe; “You’re so lucky, he’ll be amazing, he’s a legend,” etc. I thought the show could go either way too, maybe completely tragic and sad, watching a train wreck happen or I would see a show not to forget, something special that would leave me more than impressed. The thing is, there’s a certain something about seeing an artist like Prince live. He’s been in the music industry for over 30 years, won numerous Grammy Awards, released thirty-five albums under his own name, produced and written for countless others, been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame, influenced so many artists since the mid 70’s and was one of those magical mega superstars of the 80’s, this is a guy who naturally demands a little respect and once you’ve seen him play live, it’s hard not to respect him as a talented musician, whether you think he’s a little odd, a has been or a genius, he’s certainly an incredible entertainer to watch. 

With no support act, the house lights dimmed and a figure arose from the middle of the ‘lovesymbol’ shaped stage, Andy McKee appearing and playing an acoustic guitar for seven minutes with a single windblown dancer on the opposite end of the stage, probably not the start the audience was expecting, but when they picked up on the chords of Purple Rain, acoustic style, it appeared this was not a regular concert, this was a Prince show we had come to see. With three incredibly strong backup singers, Prince arrived on stage and took us through almost 3 hours of song after song with few breaks in between, and when the audience really begin to react at the third song with the opening of ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ things get fantastic, Prince telling the crowd to get on their feet, it’s hard to believe anyone could be seated anyway. It’s about half hour into the set that we truly get to witness something I think often gets overlooked about Prince; his incredible guitar skills. His solo before he launches into ‘Empty Room’ leaves me speechless. Throughout the night he shows us his ability to make his guitar talk funk, metal, rock, dance; I don’t know how he does it but his ability to take his guitar across genres seamlessly and successfully is astounding. He shows off his incredible piano skills throughout the night too, especially during his beautiful medley of ‘Diamonds And Pearls’ and ’The Beautiful Ones’, then smoothly moves into one of my favourite Prince tracks of all time ‘How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?’ (so lucky to see that one, I can take that off the bucket list now, it was just breathtakingly awesome). He shows off his still unbelievable dance skills as well, especially during ‘Kiss.’ I was almost embarrassed to be dancing in the same room and hope I can still sway with a small amount of rhythm when I hit 50 or so years old. Midway through the night the band and backup singers launch into The Jackson’s ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’, a pleasant surprise to see one of Michael Jackson’s contemporaries do justice to an awesome song. This is one of those gigs where you spend so much time saying, “Oh yeah, this song! I love this song!” His back catalogue is so extensive it’s impossible for him to play every hit, but the ones he does play are just incredible. ‘When Doves Cry’, ‘Raspberry Beret’, ‘Kiss’ and ‘Cream’ wedged in between some of his lesser known songs are what made it a great show. He managed to show off his hits but his talent as a musician is so strong even the lesser known songs are astounding to watch. I suppose a review of a Prince show can’t be a review without mentioning his probably most famous song ‘Purple Rain’ and the rendition we saw was not disappointing. It went on forever, the crowd singing along all the way through and being showered with purple confetti and gold glitter. It was definitely a Prince moment, a little cheesy but incredibly fun.


Prince is one of those performers, love him or hate him, he’s had such a prolific career he’s probably had an influence over someone you like or some random song you’ve sung along to at some stage. His performance wasn’t life changing, but it was far from disappointing. He’s an entertainer in every sense of the word and I left his show just as impressed as I had the last two times I’ve seen him. So impressed that I would get tickets again if I wasn’t already going to two other gigs next week when he plays another show in my part of the world. You can’t leave a Prince gig without being a little impressed. His musicianship, his dancing and his showmanship is compelling. I was impressed and still have the “whoa ooooh ooooh oh” from Purple Rain spinning around my head. Apologies to anyone I see in the next couple of days; like the song itself, this could go on for a while. “Whoa ooooh ooooh oh….”

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