I just returned from a trip to Chicago to see a Prince Concert. It was my second time seeing Prince in concert and my second visit to The Windy City. I am not a music critic, thank goodness. On the heels of a concert performed by an artist as high calibre and with such a large following of fans as Prince, I would not want that job. I did however read many, if not all, of the reviews, and I have to say, more interesting than the reviews themselves, are the comments that people leave. I have read attacks on the writers that are discourteous and un-called for; I have read such malicious and spiteful things people have said to each other in response to sound issues of the first Welcome to Chicago show. Mostly, I have read merciless words about Prince himself. It makes me wonder how people feel they have the right to say such things, about anyone.
I read once that Prince does not like to read reviews written by people who don’t actually have musical ability or can’t offer an opinion or criticism that is not about the music itself. I don’t know if that’s true, but here’s the thing. Prince doesn’t need feedback or criticism or advice on his craft. He is a master at what he does, he continues to perfect what he does with each day, he is not new to this people! And who are we, to judge a musician on his expert abilities, even if you are a musician yourself? I can’t imagine that anyone could offer an iota of feedback, criticism or best practice that Prince has not already thought of on his own.
Music is emotional. It is emotional for everyone, no matter what color your skin is, what God you believe in, what country you reside. You cannot dispute that, and if you do, then you should stop reading now, because the rest of what I have to say is based on emotion, not expertise.
The House of Blues and a Prince Sighting!
In the wee hours of the morning on Monday September 24, 2012 (which technically was the next day right?), I read that the concert on that Monday, was a bust. People were mad. I am not going to go into detail, because it was already written many times over by real music critics and real journalists, paid to write the story. What I cared about at the moment was what happened or rather what didn’t happen that night at the House of Blues. I cared, because I had tickets for that venue and I had expectations. I was there. I could write in detail about how disillusioned and how sad I was, that I didn’t get the show I wanted to see that night, instead, I am going to tell you what I did see of Prince, what I was a part of that night.
I could have done without the cocaine sniffing guys in front of me, but you know what, they were so entertaining to my friend and I, and nice enough guys, that in the end, they were a part of a great night. I could have done without the drink that had so much alcohol in it, my throat burned as I sipped it. I could have done without spending the money I did and the loss of sleep I endured to see a performance that did not pierce my heart with the love and inspiration that I was so anticipating.
Here is what I did love. The DJ played music from the 80’s, with videos and music by Prince, the Time, Sheila E, even Eddy Murphy’s, Party all the Time, and I danced and danced! There was a Prince Song/ video playing and I happened to look to my left to see a woman come onto the dance floor, hand cupping her wide open mouth, her eyes bright as she looked up at the screen. I knew in a split second, that she was going to be fun, and that she had just as big a crush on Prince as I had. Turns out, Jennifer was a blast and the cause for the loss of my voice that night.
Here is a cool thing, there was a point in the night when someone said to look up in the balcony and we all obeyed. There, above us, people watching from the first balcony, was Prince, in his cool dude shades! He was just taking a peak, and gave everyone a wave!
|photo from Welcome to Chicago photo book|
Andy Allo played that night, with an amazing band, mostly the NPG and I have to say, “People Pleaser” has been stuck in my head ever since. From where I was standing, I could see Prince, in the back corner, bopping his head back and forth. Just standing there, bopping, and watching with pride and likely his own crush, Andy Allo and the band, rocking the House of Blues. It was so great to see, this nearly private moment, as he witnessed his protégé taking over the audience. I will never forget that moment. It was evident to me that he clearly is the ideal illustration of a mentor, a leader, and a teacher of all things he is great at. Prince never did take the stage that night to delight us and get our hearts beating faster, not more than to come on stage to apologize for the police shutting the place down because it was nearing 4am. There it is, can you actually hear my heart breaking? I assure you, it did.
Who is the Spotlight for Anyway?
Now that a few days have passed, I can validate in my mind, why he didn’t come on stage sooner to perform. I know a little about being a perfectionist. He indisputably is a perfectionist and I ask myself this about his first show that week. If I was a musician, performing for 20 thousand fans, expecting perfection, and a sound system failed me, how pissed off and disappointed would I be? For a perfectionist not to have control over such a vast dynamic in their performance would be devastating, frustrating beyond belief, with regret carried on your shoulders of the 20 thousand fans bewildered. If it was you, would you recover quickly enough to perform at an after party? Perhaps it never was his intention to perform at said after party, maybe his intention was always to hand the spotlight over to his protégé. Either way, only Prince and his band know what happened, beyond that, you can’t change the night.
The Welcome 2 Chicago Performance, Tuesday, September 25, 2012
|Photo via facebook|
Being the true Prince lover I am, all was quickly forgiven the next night at the concert, as he rocked us all into a breathless lull with his rendition of some beautiful songs, Sometimes it Snows in April, She’s Always in my Hair, I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man. Then of course the surprise of Jennifer Hudson, singing her heart out with him to Nothing Compares 2 U. It was powerful! As always, hearing Shelby J is an amazing experience, even if this particular night, she didn’t sing on her own too much. Cassandra O’Neal, has me appreciating the keyboards more than ever, Elisa Dease, is so soulful, and seems so lovely; I would just like to meet her. John Blackwell, oh he is one amazing drummer and plays my favorite instrument of all. I tell you, he looks like he could give a strong bear hug! Liv Warfield is so funky, and Damaris Lewis, who I don’t know much about, has legs that go on forever and I have no idea how she dances in those heels!
Prince had every person in the United Center up and dancing and in awe of not only him, but the amazing NPG, and 11 piece horn section. He had the woman behind us screaming so loud for him, over and over again, “Prince Baby, sing to me, uh huh, I hear you baby, Yeah, yeah! Sing to me Prince Baby!” I am quite certain she thought he could hear her. It made me wonder, I don’t know if Prince has a wife, or a girlfriend, but if he was my man up on stage, I would want to be in the audience, soaking up the love everyone feels for him! I would want to be witness to all the adoration he receives, and report that back to him. No doubt he feels it!
|photo via facebook|
Four encores ended the concert, and at that point I didn’t care that I didn’t get an up close and personal show at the House of Blues, I was only glad I flew 750 miles to see an amazing lyricist, musician, and human being perform a perfect show. Still, days later, I can close my eyes and feel the energy that encapsulated my body, and resonated in my heart and mind. Music is emotional. Prince, NPG, Chicago, thank you for a wonderful emotional ride!