Prince charmingly pushed the capacity crowd at Madison Square Garden to a state of euphoria last Tuesday, thrilling and taking them to the fifth and highest dimension where body and soul merge, making it impossible for them to tear themselves away from their beloved idol on his “Welcome 2 America” tour.
Yes, even after five encores, each eclipsing the one before, when he had taken the standing, cheering, frenzied throng higher and higher and higher and higher and higher again, his delirious, insatiable fans still begged for more. And although they were deeply gratified for the superlative, seductive performance which he had lavished upon them so generously, the flame just would not dissipate.
Hence, when he did not return after the last encore, the reality set in that the phenomenal Jan. 18 concert was over. Then, finally, the multitudes slowly departed from MSG, talking amongst themselves, willing their minds to remember every facet of what they had been fortunate enough to experience. In essence, it was the greatest show on earth from their adored Prince; singer, producer, musician, global multimedia entertainer and activist–one of the most magnificent, significant and influential entertainers in the universe.
Presented by Live Nation Entertainment, Prince’s highly lauded “Welcome 2 America” tour was a larger-than-life avant-garde extravaganza that presented the finest of music and dance, with imaginative sets and lighting designs topped with showbiz glitz, Vegas glam, and runway flair. It was pure spectacle, akin to a dazzling, cutting-edge Broadway show. This was masterpiece entertainment and it was fun. That’s why no one wanted to leave! Prince’s brilliant act was the hottest, fiercest and most exquisite ever.
At the top of the show, MSG, wrapped in darkness, waited expectantly for the drama to unfold. Slowly, a mysterious fog-like haze filtered up from various parts of the stage. Then came his voice. “Clap your hands!” And MSG applauded. “I got too many hits,” was the cue for the overture to begin, and the rich, ethereal strains of the classic “When Doves Cry” floated ever-so-sweetly through the dark, cavernous venue before switching to a medley of the first few bars of other ageless and great Prince hits.
The stage lights came on. Red and green footlights illuminated the circumference of the stage designed in his trademark glyph love symbol. And there he stood. The inimitable Prince, attired in purple and gray striped slacks with a matching lilac and gray striped shirt, with a black Nehru collar and an image of his face on the front. As the two faces took in the crowd, everyone stood up simultaneously and paid homage to the legend, the recipient of seven Grammys, a Golden Globe, an Oscar, and a Webby. To the music genius who, in 2004, was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. To Prince, amongst whose credits are 11 No. 1 songs, and 22 top hits on the pop charts.
Prince immediately proceeded to work those songs. In so doing, he tantalized and re-energized, teased and pleased, moved and grooved. As confetti rained down upon MSG, Prince got into the first part of the concert with the international favorite, “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” The Twins, two sexy young Latina dancers, joined the sensuous artist, and the trio got down, seducing the crowd with some racy moves. Then the dancers exited and Prince and his guitar (one of three for the evening) broke into “Shhh (Break it Down)” a gutsy blues number.
After this hot opener, everyone was up dancing and singing in front, behind and all around. Throughout the first set, Prince’s backup singers, three awesome women, worked various parts of the stage. Attired in black, their rich, voluptuous voices complemented Prince’s, and, like their front man, they radiated great stage personality, charisma and entertainment skills. Like Prince, they also heeded the title of the song “Let’s Work,” and did just that, to the delight of the excited audience.
As for his musicians, well…Prince surrounded himself with two dynamic female musicians–one on keyboards, the other on bass. The drummer, John Blackwell Jr., has got to be the baddest cat this side of Heaven. He worked it non-stop, continually taking his craft to the next level and the next. Like Prince, all of the singers and band members are worth their weight in gold. And that’s what they gave to the audience–pure gold. Needless to say, the first part of the show ended dramatically, as Prince and his backup vocalists, perched atop a trap door, were lowered off the stage and disappeared in a cloud of smoke.
The second set opened with the three female singers performing a powerful, gospel-like song that showcased their individual talents as well as their mesmeric harmonizing skills. At the close of the number, Prince made his entrance dripping in purple. Yep, this was the centerpiece for his “Purple Rain” segment, which received continuous thunderous applause. In this portion of the show, the lucky actress Leighton Meester (TV’s “Gossip Girl”) was serenaded on stage by Prince as the great saxophonist Maceo Parker accompanied him.
Prince also got busy with the crowd-pleaser “What’s My Name,” to which the crowd responded, shouting, “Prince!” For this segment, the artist signed off with, “My name is Prince. Goodnight.” However, the crowd would not let him go.
Returning after another costume change–this time in leather–highlights of this segment included Prince’s invitation to the audience to “take out your cells, turn them on, and shine it from side to side.” And that they did. Suddenly MSG had become a beautifully lit night sky. He later told the audience, “I like this stage,” and still later, “I need someone to pray for me.” Just before closing the show, Prince said, “Thank you New York,” threw his guitar out into the audience, and walked off the stage amidst tumultuous applause, leaving the audience standing like thunderstruck statues in a magical fairy tale.
Guest performers on the show included Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, who opened the show, and saxophonist Maceo Parker. Among the celebrities and other recognizable personalities who attended were Mos Def, ?uestlove, Madonna, Jimmy Fallon, Leighton Meester, BET’s Stephen Hill, Essence founder Ed Lewis, Donald and Melania Trump and A. J. Calloway. An afterparty at the Darby was attended by Jay-Z and Leonardo DiCaprio, as well as Mos, ?uestlove, Hill, Calloway, Meester and Jones.
The media was given a surprise gift bag from Dylan’s Candy Bar, the world’s largest candy emporium, which included the scrumptious limited-edition commemorative “Prince NYC 2010” Belgian milk chocolate bar designed by Dylan’s Candy Bar “to mark Prince’s residency in New York, commemorating the beginning of his much-anticipated ‘Welcome 2 America tour.’” The bars are available only at Prince concerts in the U.S. and at the chain’s New York City, East Hampton, Roosevelt Field, Orlando and Houston stores. The gift bag was made possible by the courtesy of the Terrie Williams Agency, Prince’s public relations company, in association with Live Nation.
Due to the extraordinary response to the critically acclaimed sold out shows, and high demand for the talk-of-the town Prince concerts, another “Welcome 2 America” tour date has been added for Mon., Feb. 7. What a fabulous Valentine’s gift for New York City…the concert and the delectable “Prince NYC 2010” chocolate bar. You can bet that when Prince delivers, everyone will be in a quintessential state of mind. For further information and to order tickets, please visit www.livenation.com.