People who don’t want to sleep with Prince haven’t seen his live show.
The Musicology tour opened nearly 3 months ago in Los Angeles, and dates for Minnesota were awaited with baited breath and itchy mouse fingers. Last night it was my indescribable pleasure to witness Prince’s homecoming at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul with 19,000 fellow enthusiasts. “Y’all have been waiting for this, right?” he entreated the audience. “You don’t understand – I HAVE TOO.” After opening the show with the title track from Musicology, he rocked us back in time to the days of Purple Rain with “Let’s Go Crazy”. People danced, sang and partied like it was 1984, with purple ribbons and confetti falling from the ceiling.
The concert was nothing less than a religious experience, and not because of the cross-shaped stage or the derisive reports of Prince (of all people) becoming a Jehovah’s witness and going door to door in various Twin Cities suburbs, forsaking his former identity as the god of sexual funk. I have to admit that I was a little distressed to learn that “Pussy Control” wouldn’t be making the new family-friendly set list, but as it turns out, Prince doesn’t need lewd and libidinous lyrics to turn you on. His command of the whole building: his band; his body; his instruments (including, but not by any means limited to his voice); and, arguably most impressively, his audience, is nonpareil. He could make the arena shudder with a deafening roar with his own material or covers of everything from Ray Charles to Led Zeppelin to Amii Stewart, or, with his thirty minute solo-acoustic guitar set, make a room full of 19,000 people feel like a live show at the local coffeehouse with renditions of “Raspberry Beret”, “Cream” and “Little Red Corvette” that tugged at the heartstrings in ways that you didn’t know those songs could.
This is what a pop concert was meant to be, though it seems insulting to call it that: a performance piece complete with costume changes and confetti and visual spectacle, brought to you live by someone who can dance, sing, play any instrument within reach, make you laugh, make you cry, make you forget about anything and everything but the music in your ears and the rhythm invading your body. “Y’all know how I feel about lip synching. There will be no lip synching tonight.” Minnesotans aren’t known for animation during live music…I’ve watched several performances where rooms or arenas full of people sit and tap their toes or nod their heads. Last night I saw 20,000 people of all ages on their feet with boundless joy and excitement, and the source of all of that positive energy was at the center of the stage, doing what he so obviously loves. Jehovah wasn’t messing around when he made Prince.
Less than 48 hours from now, 60,000 people will have seen him perform at the Xcel. Two and a half hours of an incredible show are preceded and followed by a party at Paisley Park Studios expected to last until 3:30am. Prince has been making music for 25 years now, and the party doesn’t stop. “I wanna dance, but I ain’t got no booty. Can somebody let me borrow some booty?”
He can use mine anytime.