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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Prince in Oakland, Night 2: Here Come the Hits

Posted on Thu, Feb 24, 2011 at 8:58 AM

Larry Graham
February 23, 2011

You need to hear funk-bass pioneer Larry Graham, who opens the show, school you on where Les Claypool came from. You might also dig how Prince embodies history in slick, soft-shoe shuffles lifted from Cab Calloway, James Brown, and Elvis. Prince is a rockstar-pimpdaddy-preacherman in love with his own bad self. But he's not a snot like Kanye. Prince thrives off his reflection in our reactions. He needs us to get off as much as we need him. So last night when we sang aloud slightly out-of-key, swung our hips to the grind, and waved hands and cellphones in the air, Prince would tease us with a slanted grin, touch himself just so. Everything then was right with the world.

Q: Why is it so much fun to watch a total narcissist on stage? A: Because he's a total narcissist. As all the ladies in the house would say, the man's also got mad talent: voice of an angel with sooty tail feathers, godlike knowledge of the Almighty Groove. Pair him on stage with Sheila E., and the street beats felt like they'd go all night. Prince is "Pop Life," not remotely joking when he testifies: "Baby, I'm a star, ow!" Prince is pre-9/11 America: dirty silk, dirty sweet, always up for the get-down. Last night fans reveled in all the hits Monday's crowd missed: "Let's Go Crazy," "1999," "Little Red Corvette," "Controversy," "Delirious," "When Doves Cry." We knew all the lyrics and when to "wooo ooo ooo oooooooo..." Do we have to go back for more tonight? Is "Purple Rain" love? 

Prince's last Bay Area show is tonight at Oracle Arena.

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