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Wednesday, March 31, 2004
His name is Prince and he seems to think he's funky
I own copies of 1999 and Purple Rain. Does this make me a Prince fan?
This isn't the first time I written about Prince in this forum. After being subjected to "The Artist" by family members in the '80s, I finally came around to him after reading Jonathan Lethem's Motherless Brooklyn. In it, the main character self medicates a nasty case of Tourette's Syndrome with the likes of "Delirious" and "Darling Nikki." Somehow, Prince's chirps and howls calm his tendency to scream "fuck me, Bailey" in awkward situations. Like I always say, if it's good enough for a victim of Tourette's, it's good enough for me.
With that said, I paid $15 to see Prince "in concert" at the Lloyd Cinemas on Monday night (give me a break. There was a "free" CD and the promise of weirdness). If you haven't seen the ads, the first stop on his Musicology tour was broadcasted via digital projectors in theaters Around the Globe. Has this ever been done before? It's the first I've heard of it and I couldn't quell nagging questions like:
1. Would the crowd cheer in the theater?
2. Would they wave their arms back and forth during slow numbers?
3. Would they dance?
4. Would they break out their lighters during the encore?
The answers to all of these, strangely enough, was yes. The concert nearly sold out both of the larger theaters at the Lloyd. Before the show started, cameras darted around the Staples Center, beaming shots of Eddie Murphy making his way to the $20,000 seats. A counter in the corner provided a countdown. About a minute before 8 PM, it mysteriously disappeared. They never seem to start these things on time.
I'm sure there was a psychology grad student in the back scribbling notes on to a clipboard. When the crowd in LA began anxiously cheering on the screen, the crowd in the theater did the same. When Prince finally strutted on to stage in a pair of high-heel platforms, a few people cheered as everyone else giggled self-consciously. As he rolled through the first song, they quickly began imitating the frantic accolades of the crowd on screen. After a quick song of his new album, Prince pulled out the ol' "dearly beloved. We gather together here tonight to get through this thing called life." With that, a group of women excitedly jumped out of their seats and spent the majority of the show dancing under the exit signs next to the screen.
So will concerts like this become a trend? I kinda hope so, regardless of the Orwellian "Two Minutes of Hate" overtones. If they do catch on, I'm sure they'll be dubbed "ghetto concerts."
As for the concert, 'twas good indeed. Prince plowed through his standards in 2.5 hour set and ended the show with an epic 15-minute rendition of "Purple Rain." For the encore, he played a few on-the-spot blues songs before rolling into an acoustic "Little Red Corvette." At one point, members of the crowd were brought on stage, forcing the musicians to duck and weave through gyrating fans for twenty minutes. Watching Prince squeeze past a woman weighing easily 300,000 pounds while struggling to play a guitar was worth the price of admission.
Bonus: Fun Prince Factoids!
1. So you think Sinead O'Conner wrote "Nothing Compares 2 U." Nope! It came from the purple pen o' Prince.
2. While filming an unreleased documentary, Prince's manager explained to director Kevin Smith that he lives in "Prince World," a peculiar mental state. Over the past ten years, he's dropped millions of dollars on videos, albums and docs, all unreleased. They're locked in a vault and will probably never see the light of day, among them the one shot by Smith.
Prince also calls his publicist in the middle of the night and makes strange requests. One night, he demanded that a live camel be delievered to his front door immediately. Despite the managers explanation that there were no available camels in Minneapolis in the dead of winter at 1 AM, Prince didn't seem to understand and remained insistent.
3. In the mid-'80s, he and Michael Jackson were rivals. In '87, Jackson invited him to sing a duet on title track for Bad. The accompanying video would have featured the two of them fighting a sort of sort of rap battle before "joining forces" for the finale. Prince scoffed at the idea, clearing the way for the black jacket with all the cheesy sequins and the ensuing Scorsese video.