February 24, 2011
Better than: Purifying yourself in Lake Minnetonka
Luminescent in draped white clothes, with jewel-encrusted accessories and slick black hair, Prince splays himself across a purple piano and moans seductively. It could be 1984, but it is 2011. Now 52-years-old, the guitar-virtuoso rock icon looks like a lithe teenager on the Oracle Arena stage.
Last night the purple one played all those juicy hits you've been hearing about all week (he played two sold-out concerts at the Oakland venue Monday and Wednesday). He played "Purple Rain" and the crowd swooned, collectively "ooh-ing" through the end of the song. He rocked "Delirious" and "1999" like he did in Wednesday's set -- jams the Monday crowd sadly missed. One memorable encore -- he played about four in all -- included a hyperactive rendition of "Kiss." He kept waving goodbye, but wouldn't leave for long. The show stretched to midnight.
But whatever night you went, it's hard to imagine a less entertaining show. There was all the concert accoutrement -- lasers, lights, fog, and badass backup singers -- but Prince needs none of it. It's his presence, funky movements, soulful eyes, expert guitar playing; it's Prince, he's the main show, the reason we were there, and the audience never lost its gaze. He promised Oakland he'd be back soon -- until then, majestic one.
Guests: Extra funky Larry Graham joined Prince onstage halfway through the set and rocked Sly and the Family Stone's "Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again)," among other tunes. The awe-inspiring, still-stunning Sheila E. tore it up on drums, with three costume changes, no less.
The stage: In the shape of Prince's former name/symbol, lit up with neon lights.
The crowd's style: Bejeweled, soaked in perfume, ecstatic. The euphoric cheers never ceased.