Calgary rolls out purple paisley carpet for Prince
The outrageous, outtasight, funkalicious enigma that is Prince enchanted Calgarians on Dec. 14 in what was to ultimately become the best show of 2011.
The icon who turned his name in for a symbol, scrawled slave on his face in protest of his label’s demands of him, boycotted the Internet only to embrace it in subsequent record sale success, plays over ten different instruments and once told Oprah Winfrey that he had a woman living inside of him has captivated multiple generations and entranced fans for decades.
Lending to his mystique is the fact he’ll have little or no pictures taken of him and won’t allow covers of his music to be played on YouTube without sanction. Presumably this is due to his somewhat newly adopted faith as a Jehovah’s Witness. It’s said that he occasionally goes door-to-door spreading the good word in his hometown of Minneapolis.
The man, the legend… er, the person in the plum-coloured suit at your door asking if you’ve heard the word of the Lord? Yep that’s him. I can’t even imagine how many he’s converted.
After over 30 years, eccentricities a plenty, 10 platinum albums, seven Grammys and multitudes of other accolades, Prince has proven he never had anything to prove — just things to do.
As crowds elbowed their way into the Saddledome the excitement was palpable and it seemed everywhere one looked there were shades of violet and plenty of raspberry-coloured berets. The concert was attended by over 12,000 goers. Expectations were high with tickets ranging up to almost $600, and tales about the Toronto show going three hours with multiple encores.
The lights were up for sometime because Prince showed up half an hour late and, just to whip the crowd into a frenzy of paisley and rhinestones it seemed, the house lights went down and back up a few times before the diminutive man himself slowly rose out of the stage and the crowd went berserk.
The light show was dazzling as Prince and his New Power Generation kicked into “Let’s Work” and the show began. Prince strutted around the stage in one of his classic luxurious jump suits and his band, which is predominately female, played as tight as one would expect being the world-class players they are. There were plenty of bluesy solos and funky interludes showcasing the various players and their chosen instruments.
The set was particularly ‘80s discography-heavy, which seemed to be a crowd pleaser as one might imagine. Some of the highlights included Prince playing “Purple Rain” all aglow in violet lasers and smoke, and following that “Little Red Corvette” was a serious crowd pleaser as well.
The performer encouraged people to pull out their phones and wave them like their more dangerous predecessors. At times it seemed the crowd wasn’t as familiar with the artist’s catalogue as they could have been because he asked everyone to sing along and all you could hear was a somewhat excited drone. I was reminded of pretending to know the words at church, but this was truly religious experience. When the first few keys of my favourite song, “When Doves Cry,” were played by the man himself, I am humbled to admit that I cried like an evangelist — eyes closed, hands in the air — while he played the song solo in a single lilac spotlight.
The crowd worked hard to get the petite powerhouse back on stage for an encore, but when he arrived he didn’t disappoint and played such favourites as “Raspberry Beret” and “Cream.” He seemed to become exhausted toward the end and members of his band often took turns at centre stage in his place. At 70 minutes the lights went up, the show was done and people plodded out of the inverted venue.
Reports were that there were no further encores because he had cited health problems. Some fans seemed disappointed, some just plain angry and others elated.
It was the show of the year. And, considering Prince is a 53-year-old and played an after party until almost 5:30 a.m., I think Calgary got its fair share of the Purple One. Perhaps, it was just the ones who didn’t complain and knew all the words that got to see those subsequent encores at a little sushi bar downtown. Besides, he’s Prince — he does what he wants.