by Justin Trudell
From behind a giant, purple curtain, “Detroit! It seems like only yesterday, but they tell me it’s been 11 years! How about we play 17 hits in a row?”
The curtain drops to reveal whom I have decided is the baddest man on the planet, Prince, with a shimmering gold outfit, sunglasses, and an Afro reminiscent of Jimi, circa Woodstock ‘69. He immediately launches into an incredible guitar shredding performance of “Let’s Go Crazy”. This brings up a theory I came up with about Prince.
My theory is if he had been born ten years earlier and was rooted in the 70s guitar rock, or 10 years later and came to power during the 90s grunge/alternative era, we would all KNOW how great of a guitarist he was. Instead, it comes as a bit of a shock to casual fans of his music that he’s so incredible. I feel like the synthesizer has ruined more potentially great songs, by putting an indefinite timestamp on them, than it’s helped. Each of the great songs Prince created in the 80s were integrated with the sound of the time, making them the opposite of timeless and hiding away some of his unreal guitar skills.
This stripped down, raw, guitar heavy, void-of-synth rendition of “Let’s Go Crazy” is exactly what I have always wanted out of Prince. It’s what you get at his concerts, a completely different, I would say better, version of a song you already loved. After ripping up the entire six-minute performance, he started in on all the other hits we came to see. Even bringing 15 fans on stage to dance with him during some songs.
Throughout the night, Prince worked the stage like no one I have ever seen. The best description I could come up with was if you took the soul and presence of James Brown, gave him the dance moves and pop star appeal of Michael Jackson, guitar skills on par with Hendrix and the most confidence of anyone on the planet you would have Prince. All from a man standing a towering 5’2”.
Prince was joined by his backing band, 3rdEyeGirl, a pretty incredible all girl group. They, with the help of the horn section, created a very funk heavy performance throughout the night. The guitarist, Donna Grant, had a few solos as good as the Symbol himself. The opening act, Judith Hill, joined Prince to sing a few songs as well.
The highlight of the night for me may seem a bit cliché, but “Purple Rain” was something to behold. This song was MADE to be played live and get the crowd to feel as though this event is larger than life. Prince definitely delivered. The soaring guitar solo and opportunity for everyone to feel something special while singing along as one, “Whoa Oh Oh Oooh,” made this concert feel like an event. He left the stage afterwards, only to return after a full eight minutes of applause from the crowd, craving more.
Prince played for around two and a half hours, leaving the stage before one of his many encores by giving us the cocky, “Detroit, y’all can’t handle me!” During one of the medley performances, he said what most of us were thinking, “Damn how many hits do I got?” Later, engaging the crowd in a Heisenberg-esque, “What’s my name?”
You are Prince, and you are a God.
Setlist (Via Setlist.fm)
Let’s Go Crazy
Take Me With U
You Got The Look
When Doves Cry
Sign “O” the Times
I Would Die 4 U
Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough
Play That Funky Music
How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
Little Red Corvette
Nothing Compares 2 U
Act of God
What Have You Done for Me Lately
She’s Always in My Hair
Diamonds and Pearls/Darling Nikki/Forever In My Life/Alphabet St./The Most Beautiful Girl In the World
The Love We Make