Prince pulled a trifecta at the House of Blues Wednesday night, providing over 8 hours of rock, funk, and soul that entertained, mesmerized, frustrated, and added to Prince's legend as the greatest living live musician of all time.
Prince took the stage after 9 P.M. and the upstairs area had more star power than American Idol that night with Tom Cruise, Katy Holmes, Tony Kanal of No Doubt, Dan Akroyd, Dr. Cornel West, Sanna Hamri,Tavis Smiley, Charlie Sheen, David Spade, Kelis, and later in the night, Bono.
Sax player Mike Phillips took the stage and started the band off singing into his vocoder microphone "Are you ready for some funky music" which led into a funky jam version of D.M.S.R. and had Mike leading into "La De La De Da" and "One Nation Under A Groove" and female lead singer Shelby leading the crowd into chants from backstage. Then Prince came out shortly wearing a black suit outfit, white beanie and white light up shoes. Prince had his back to the audience for a little bit of time and the stage was somewhat dark and was decorated with 6 rugs laid out from the microphone stand to his drummer John Blackwell's kit. Prince picked up his guitar with his back still towards the audience.
Prince was dancing up a storm and although the beat of D.M.S.R. was playing, Prince started asking people to dance for him and then went into "Dance 4 Me" which the hardcore fans in the front row who put in the work from 1 p.m. in the afternoon knew as well as Tom Cruise as he was smiling and rocking out the song upstairs. Prince then goes into "D.M.S.R." and the song turns into a jam session with his band as he has Renato play with just him on guitar and then leads John Blackwell into a jam next. Prince is really playing som mean guitar as Shelby Johnson, Liv Warfield, and Elisa Fiorillo take the stage.
Prince then surprises me going into the 3rd verse of "D.M.S.R." of "I don't want to be a poet, because I don't want to blow it, I don't care to win awards,.." which he has not done since 2004, at this very same location. He calls out Shelby "with his dancing feet and Shelby's voice being so sweet..."
Prince then goes into a jazzy version of "Pop Life" with Prince putting down the guitar and just starts swinging like he was Sammy K. from back in the day. While the band is still jamming, Prince and the girls walk off stage with the band still playing. Prince comes back for "Musicology" stopping by to play Cassandra Wilson's keys with her. He then takes the mic and name checks Eryka Badu, who I heard was there, but never saw. Prince then walks over to his drummer's cymbals and starts tapping on them as John plays.
Prince gets the entire audience to clap as he says "This is my favorite part of the night right here..." and goes into the as yet unreleased song "Prince & The Band" namechecking Badu again. He asks Liv Warfield during the song if she feel good, and she says yes. Prince playfully says you will feel better tomorrow and adds I feel good too.
Still jamming on "Prince & The Band" he gets the crowd to chant "Gotta get that money right" while singing lyrics to his Golden Globe winning song "Song Of The Heart" from Happy Feet.
The band then goes into the intro to "Shh" with Prince adding a Forum favorite new song "U Will Be With Me" to the beat at first. Someone must have missed the cue as Prince asked the crowd what song is the band playing with them replying "shh" and him smiling and looking back shaking his head before going into the second verse.
Prince does a full version of "Shh" complete with John Black solo's and Prince showing that he is guitarist on another level then anyone else. Prince then turns to the classic "Mountains" from his Parade album. "Mountains" in a small club? I'm cool with that! Prince then take's Ida Neilson's bass and leads into "Everyday People" and having the crowd chant "Everyday People" before going into the song. He plays a little bit of "Thank You...." before going into "I Want To Take You Higher" and abruptly asks the band to stop on the 1 before going off on the bass playing "777-9311" and switching back and forth between "The Stick" and "777-9311" nad brings the band back into the groove, handing Ida her bass back stating "I just wanted to see if it worked" and well, it did.
Prince then said "2 words. 2 words and they are not old school. Speaking of old school, how many of you know about the Controversy? What do you know about that Ronnie, Talk To Russia? What do you know about Let's Work? 2 words. Let's Work!" and it leads into, you guessed it, "Let's Work" with Prince funking it up. Prince stops the band at one point and says "Brother dude rocks this way" and says "When we bring the groove back you better dance and shake something. Wind it up!" and as Prince and the band are shaking everything they got on stage, Dr. Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, Tom Cruise are rocking out and dancing like they are 15 and at their first every house party. I love it when celebs stop being cool and lose it over Prince.
Prince goes into "U Got The Look" but has the crowd chanting "Hollywood" for several minutes before going into it. Prince says we have a brief intermission, we will be back in a few minutes and calls for the band to leave.
They come back shortly and go into "Cool" and mixing it with Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop Til You Get Enough" and the crowd is just into it. Prince is shaking it all over the dance floor and high fiving people in the crowd while going into the second verse.
Prince takes his bows and the band leaves for good this time as they start bringing equipment up for the 2nd show of the night on the second floor of the restaurant.
As soon as I walk into where the band is set up, it is a wall of 7 people deep already. For those wondering why first show was $200 and second was a $100 and figuring it would be a short show for the reason, it was actually because of an obstructed view. I made the judgement to just go to the back of the restaurant and chill. That is actually where most of the band members and Prince's crew were hanging, so score one for my intuition.
The show kicked off around 11:30 with Prince leading into a "Star Spangled Banner Jam" with him saying "Jose, can you see?" alluding to his sound man named Jose to see what he was doing in regards to the sound. Prince looked a little angry and if he was going to do a rock show with that emotion, this was gonna be an amazing show.
Prince then went into "I Like It There" and it was great. He extended it into a long bluesy jam at the end. He went into "Endorphinemachine" and just did a short instrumental of it. Not sure if he was not feeling it but it just didn't happen. It turned into "Villanova Junction" by Hendrix. He took his time with it and it was mind-blowing.
Prince then went into the "? Of U" intro that led into another new song entitled "The Gingerbread Man" asking the girls to jump on his hips after he leaves them in a puddle. He gets the entire place to just clap their hands. For most of the performance, the lights are completely out, which justified me just grooving, knowing while he is playing guitar, he is giving those funky cool guitar faces that he does.
Prince goes into a long version of "The One" and then takes it to another level with "Dreamer" with blistering guitar solo's.
He has the crowd sing "Welcome 2 America. Welcome 2 The Big Show" as he goes into "Welcome 2 America" singing if you don't like airport security, just remember who you elected."
Prince then went into b-side classic "She's Always In My Hair" which sounded very different. I liked it however, Prince was not happy. I was told he turned back to the band and yelled "Watch Me" to them before going into the song and giving a few sound guys a piece of his mind. Sounded great to us in back but that was what was happening. Thank you to Angela Lesaca for dropping that piece of info on us.
Prince went into a rousing rock version of "Bambi" and took out his frustration on that guitar and it sounded amazing. They then went into "Colonized Mind" with Mike Phillips doing an intro into the song.
Shelby J. then came down so sing India Arie's song "Brown Skin" and make it her own. Prince then says who is going upstairs? Alluding to the 3rd show that was to take place at midnight as it now reaches 1 a.m.
Prince goes into "Little Red Corvette" Montreux Jazz Festival style and takes his time with it, letting the crowd chant "Slow Down" while he did his thing.
Prince says "Thank you, goodnight." and that is our cue to head up to the Foundation Room upstairs next.
We get to The Foundation Room and the place is packed again as well. Although it was an auction show going for charity starting at $500 for tickets, it seems Foundation members were able to attend the show. No word on the charity it was for, but hoping it is for his Twin dancers mother, who recently took ill and stayed for a lengthy time at a hospital out here. (We will have a way for you to directly help with that sometime this weekend.)
Before the 2nd show started, I ran into Tony Kanal in the bathroom. Before the 3rd show, my friend was taking a leak next to Bono of U2. Needless to say, he trumped me in pissing star power.
The thoughts ran into my mind. Could we see Prince and Bono jam together? $500 now seemed like a bargain to see these 2 musical giants perform together. The question was...would it happen.
While the stage is being set up, and band members are soundchecking, there is Prince. With Bono. Bono with Prince. Prince is decked out in all red and Bono is just smiling.
Prince takes the stage and has his back to the crowd where he is for a majority of the time. They play "footprints" by Wayne Shorter with Mike Phillips leading the band. Prince calls out for Bono as Mike tries to get Bono's attention. Are we about to see it? Not sure if Bono did not hear Prince or what, but he just chilled and continued to watch Prince play. It didn't happen.
They go into an instrumental jam that sounds like something from his Madhouse jazz days but I can't place it. Prince then chants about Minnesota before going into Stevie Wonder's "I Wish" and then "Which Way Is Up" with Shelby and the girls singing. Mike Phillips with his Vocoder goes into "Get Up, Stand Up" and then "Wait In Vain" by Bob Marley.
They went into a little bit of "What Are We Waiting For" with Prince on bass, where he remained for a majority of this performance. Shelby would sing about it being an NPG Party and that we are gonna party til the sun comes up. They went into a little bit of "Play That Funky Music" and then "Hollywood Swinging" which led into a brief version of "Love Rollercoaster" which went back into "Play That Funky Music" with just jamming and no singing. Prince was still on bass and went to play keys as well during this jam session.
Andy Allo, who was out with the girls to sing "Oustanding" took the stage to sing "Wait In Vain" by Bob Marley. Unlike he did at the Troubadour a few weeks ago, Prince did not join in to sing. I looked for Bono who was still there and having a good time, hoping he would join, but didn't. Everyone always asks if that is Esperanza Spalding every time Andy takes the stage but I set them right.
Prince then goes into Roxy Music's "More Than This" taking his time and putting his heart into it, like usual. Prince then takes his time going into "Controversy" the only song of his he did at this show. "People Call Me Rude..." chants started and Prince just kept the groove going into going into the first verse 5 minutes or longer in.
Shelby then takes over as they go into "It Takes Two" with chants of "Til the sun comes up" as it is now 3:30 in the morning, she is most likely telling the truth. they then go into "Rude Boy" By Rihanna with Prince exclaiming "This is the last jam" and after the song, Prince says a quick good night away from mic as the band walks out.
The crowd clears a little bit but we know Prince is not done as the band comes back to do a long jam of "Stratus" with the ending of Prince cutting the band off quick and them exiting.
It is now after 4 a.m. and I am a hot sweaty mess. I just got funked up in every way possible. People couldn't believe I wasn't tired n wanted my energy. All natural baby. With a little bit of funk. I was already asking crew members if this weekend's Forums shows were the last and no one really knew.
So with that, if you were not able to make it to Prince's House of Blues Trifecta, he has 3 shows this weekend, Friday Saturday, Sunday, with plenty of good seats left and Mary J. Blige opening up for him Saturday. We are not sure who is opening on Friday or Sunday but I know Bono and The Edge are still in town and I am hoping to see them with Prince. There are Beyonce rumors as well.
It is not like Prince needs them and I must say, if you haven't seen Prince before, GO! He really is the greatest live performer and if you haven't seen him before, these shows are for you. It's hard to satisfy everyone, but Prince usually does. Can't really say that about anyone else, can you?
Thanks to Ruth A. for keeping me in the mix of what celebs were on the list and would be attending. Me? I'm just glad I had a day to recover before attending the Forum shows this weekend.-Dr.FB
P.S. To find out if any surprise guests take the stage with Prince at the Forum shows, make sure to Follow us on Twitter as we will be live tweeting from the show.
Source: Dr Funkenberry