Thursday, June 17, 2004

Damn. That was fun.

First off, entirely hypothetically, if you wanted to bring a crappy, hand-held, sound-capturing thingy into a place where it's probably not welcome, it might help to steal your mother's giant purse. Place said thingy in the deepest recesses of the purse and cover it with artifacts of modern female life (this will probably work even better if you are a man). Find the first male security agent you see and allow him to search you upon entering the venue in question. Smooth sailing from there. Or so I've heard.

Speaking of venues, I continue to be impressed by the Xcel Center. Gone are the tinny, unintelligible arena concerts of my youth. I heard every word this evening, even with thousands of nutty Minnesotans screaming in my ears (me? scream? I don't know what you're talking about). I had a seat in the St. Paul Club level, which would have been more impressive if I'd not had to ask three people before I finally found it. I was third row, though, and the show was in the round, so in another dramatic change from what I'm used to I could see everything.

The place rocked, from the opening lines of Musicology to the Purple Rain finale. The first half of the show (start time 8:45, no opening act) was incredibly frenetic. We were on our feet through the first four songs (Musicology, Let's Go Crazy, I Would Die For You, When Doves Cry), and up more than down for the next hour. What was most impressive about this first half, though, was the sheer volume of talent onstage. This was made crystal clear by the periodic solos and jam sessions set between songs. The horn section was awesome, and appropriately attired in mortarboards and gowns (Musicology tour, see? It was all academic, really), which was the first of many things that cracked the audience up. Prince: putting the fun back in funk.

My favorite part of the show came just after the mini-intermission. The second half of the show started with Prince in the center of the stage, seated on a spinny chair with an acoustic guitar. He sang the blues off the top of his head for about ten minutes. He started off bemoaning telemarketers, censored himself on the word "fuck" (my man's gone family friendly now), then explained with the line "I used to use curse words, now I use caller ID." The dramatic ending to the Telemarketing Blues was an imaginary dialog in which Prince gets rid of a caller by adopting a thick Fargo-esque Minnesota accent and claims not to be himself.

Still in the spinny chair (and can I just say, I love the man for playing in the round), Prince next led a sing along of some old favorites -- Little Red Corvette, Cream (he made us perfect this one, repeating lines until we were loud enough), and Raspberry beret. He did Alphabet Street (one of my favorites) blues-style -- I have a perfectly legal (no, really) mp3 of this, and it was even better live. He also had the coolest white and silver boots ever made on (pointed out by the woman next to me, who was nice enough to let me party with her and share her binoculars). All in all, the half hour after intermission was pretty mellow, with minimal backup and a single spotlight center stage. That changed after the first verse of 7, when the band kicked back in and we were on our feet once more. (OK, at this point, I have to admit to screaming. Mostly because I just "remembered" it rather loudly.)

At this point, everyone has to be sick of my complete inability to write about music. I'll skip to my post-concert adventure, saying only that Sign of the Times, I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man, and Purple Rain were other dazzling points in an already bright evening, expecially the horns during "Sign."

I left right at the end of the concert, thinking I might just head out to Paisley for the afterparty. Of course, I was completely incapable of making a decision. I called Chris, who is normally the second most indecisive person in the world, but who I was pretty sure would talk me into going. Thirty minutes later, I was in Chanhassan, finding out that there was a fifty dollar charge and five dollar valet fee. I went off to regroup and reconsider. On the one hand, I've heard the aftershow is pretty good; on the other, I'm poor, and I'd already spent seventy bucks on the evening. I decided that I'd rather be satisfied with what I did see than risk feeling ripped off.

And now, I'm going to bed. It's taken me two hours to write this, roughly the duration of the show itself. And, hey, if I still haven't blogged anything by noon tomorrow, will someone give me a call to make sure I'm up? I've got to work... :-)


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