On Wednesday, February 23 I got to see a musician I've been wanting to see for about 20 years: Prince. I'd heard he puts on a helluva show and boy, is that the truth!
The show in Oakland started with Larry Graham (one of the greatest rock guitarists ever) and the Graham Central Station, which is basically an offshoot of Sly and the Family Stone (Larry was the bassist for Sly). Toward the end of the set, they brought out a bunch of Sly band members and did a Sly medley (the gang's from the Bay Area). And it was incredible. "Dance to the Music" and "Everyday People" live? Yes, please. Larry and his gang played from 7:30 till about 9:00. Then they changed the stage over for about 15 minutes.
And then his royal purpleness finally took the stage. He opened with "Let's Go Crazy," which led into "1999," which led into a fantastic funked-up version of "Little Red Corvette."
Then Sheila E. popped up (literally, she was lifted on a platform thru the bottom of the stage) and did "The Glamorous Life." Sheila is still fierce. At one point, a drumstick broke and without missing a beat, she tossed it aside and grabbed another one and kept on drumming.
Prince came back and did several more songs including a fierce stomping version of "Controversy."
At one point, three of the backup dancers did this amazing funky gospel version of Sarah McLachlan's song "Angel" that blew me away. I don't love that song but man oh man did I love it on Wednesday.
Prince himself? He's still got it. He might be a little pixy of a man but he OWNED that sold-out Oakland Coliseum. He has some serious strut and swagger. He can still hit those freakishly high notes and can still sound sexy as hell on the low ones.
To keep with the '60s/'70s funk theme established by the openers, he threw in some covers: he did some "Play That Funky Music" and some "Love Rollercoaster" in the set. He closed the whole thing out with "Purple Rain," complete with confetti fountains.
If you go to the show, when Prince says goodnight, he's lying. It was confusing because the house lights came up and everything. However, don't be like the people around me who all left. Stick around. Prince and the gang came back out and did about another hour. He did a medley of more hits ("When Doves Cry"/"Nasty Girl"/"Sign O' the Times"/"Alphabet Street"), a couple of other numbers, goofed around with Sheila ("Single Ladies" was adorable and hilarious) and wrapped the whole thing up for real with Morris Day and the Time's "Jungle Love." A fellow concertgoer has posted a full set list for the night here.
I'm honestly kicking myself that I didn't go back for the added Thursday night show.
Prince is doing these concerts with very little notice; I believe tickets went on sale four days before the show with a two-day pre-announcement. If you want to see the tour, make sure you're subscribed to Live Nation in your area, that's how I got the ticket sale notification. It's worth the $50 + $35 parking (thanks, Oakland) to see the show. The opening act rotates with every location.
I tossed a few cellphone snaps and clips up on my personal Flickr account if you want to see a bit more of the show.
In an age where large arena concerts are largely lip-synched and pre-recorded and maxed out with technology, it was nice to see a show with some serious musicians putting on a hell of a show.