Part II of Prince’s Hit and Run Tour recently ended in Birmingham, England, his first show there in 19 years. Those and other lucky fans this year got to experience – and will continue to as shows are announced – Prince’s amazing performances, which included brand new songs, rarely performed tracks and old-school classics with his band 3rdEyeGirl, which consists of guitarist Donna Grantis, bassist Ida Nielsen, and drummer Hannah Ford.
Prince also toured North America on his Hit & Run Tour II earlier this spring, including stops in California. It’s been a great reflection time for this amazing musician as his new upcoming album (Plectrum Electrum), and other new developments bridge back 15 years to when his 1982 hit “1999” anthem rocked the whole year.
I was fortunate enough to catch Prince’s first Hit & Run Tour at the Cleveland State University Convocation Center on November 13, 2000 with a scheduled starting time of 8 p.m. My wife Heidi and I arrived in Cleveland at the CSU Convocation Center around 6 p.m. to meet up with some friends. The amount of people in line was moderate and there was a nice atmosphere and cheerful people on this brisk autumn night.
After some snacks and mingling, we got stuck in our spots at about 7 p.m. as everyone clamored by their respective sections to get into the arena. A delay in opening the inside doors caused some uncomfortable waiting time as people tried to squish through even though there was no place to go. Everyone got some much needed space when the doors finally opened around 7:40 p.m.
Prince continues to present audiences with a dual personality theme in his music (the Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic album credited Prince as producer with 0)+-> arranging, composing, and performing the music). A short-haired “Prince” came on the floor around 8:30 p.m. whipping the audience into a frenzy. Prince wore a sleek black long-sleeved outfit and eventually took his seat after some mingling and waves to the audience.
At approximately 9 p.m. “The Artist” (sporting long hair) came out to begin the concert. The introductory music included bits of 1992’s hit “My Name Is Prince” and led into a classic collage of hits including “Uptown” and “Controversy.” Prince’s number one focus was definitely the audience, as he floated among various instruments (keyboards, guitars, etc.). Prince (or The Artist, whichever you prefer – our ticket stub says “Prince”) frequently jumped up on the huge rows of speakers to the left and right of the stage. He continued to entertain audience members with some incredible dance moves to complement his formidable vocal talents in the hits “Cream,” “Little Red Corvette” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover.”
His gifted NPG band and a lovely female dancer completed the stage talent performing on a fairly basic stage with good lighting and a tall cloth drop screen (black on top, white on the bottom) used for angled projections of fire, cityscapes and other backgrounds. After an extended dance and drum break, Prince continued with songs including “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man” from his 1987 Sign O’ the Times album, “Do Me Baby,” “Diamonds and Pearls,” and “Scandalous.” Most of the audience stood for most of the show and answered back Prince’s vocal prompts to finish the lyrics of his famous songs. Saxophone solos, extended raps, guitar showcases, and great dancing increased the overall entertainment value of Prince’s “hit parade” while allowing much needed performing breaks.
Prince’s shortened performances of “The Beautiful Ones” and “Nothing Compares 2 U” were amazing testaments to his talent and versatility. After a short break, he reappeared to cut into a Purple Rain grouping of “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Take Me With U,” then “Raspberry Beret.” In Prince’s “Darling Nikki” performance the dancer appeared in a provocative schoolgirl outfit which produces a sexy sideshow to complement the song.
“When Doves Cry” and “Purple Rain” finished a great song run which was followed by a spirited talk with the audience about universal law, God, the current music business, and a song called “When Will We B Paid” (a Staple Singers cover of their song “When Will We Be Paid”). Prince pointed out how DJs’ lack of power to play great musicians and local bands has been replaced by a large national playlist of “popular” acts like Britney Spears and Eminem. “It seems like I can’t get on the radio these days … that’s OK … I’ve been on the radio,” says Prince as the audience roars with approval. A polite Prince kept reassuring the audience that he “doesn’t want to step on anyone’s toes” as he expounded on these interesting issues. Prince also told the fans to trust in God and not be worried about the current election issues concerning our nation’s President (Clinton).
Prince continued the music with “U Got the Look,” then audience members were invited on the stage to dance during a quick version of “Kiss.” “Gett Off” kicked off a driving funkfest with special guest George Clinton, who basically screamed to the delighted crowd as the concert closed with hidden gem “Come On” from Prince’s 1998 New Power Soul album. Prince thanked the fans several times and exited with his band as the arena lights were immediately turned on to cut off the encore chants of “We want Prince.” I wasn’t really bothered with this approach. It demonstrated Prince’s evolving creative independence from the music industry and financial freedom to conduct his concerts as he saw fit.
Outside the arena, concert patrons received invitations to a party hosted by “The Artist with special guest Prince” at a location in Cleveland which was also announced at the end of the concert which seemed to help “soften the blow” of the absence of encore requests as audience members buzzed with excitement. My wife and I did not attend (had to work the next morning), but couldn’t help thinking what that experience would’ve been like. [End]
At this time, there was no confirmed release date for Prince’s new album.
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