Exactly a week after Prince suddenly left this world, shockwaves are still at an all time high amongst not only the entire music community, but literally every corner of the globe. As new details and speculations emerge about his passing, it’s perhaps most fitting to focus on his extraordinary musical legacy, and specifically within the context of Chicago, the original 2012 review of what turned out to be his final residency in town.
By many accounts, the first night of Prince’s three show residency at the United Center wasn’t exactly one to write home about. But within seconds of the superstar taking the stage at a relatively punctual 8:30pm on Tuesday, it was clear his royal purpleness was going to make amends for any previous missteps, barreling though back to back renditions of “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Delirious” and “1999,” all with his guitar turned up to the max and the New Power Generation grooving right alongside his frenetic pace.
“The time for division is over,” continued Prince once he returned to the solo spotlight, and after strapping back on the guitar, dove head first into the obligatory but ageless “Purple Rain” (accented by colored confetti blasts that covered ever centimeter of the love symbol-shaped stage).
“My apologies for yesterday,” he said a little later after other old school classics like “Let’s Work” and “U Got The Look” whipped the crowd into a further frenzy. “We were just working the kinks out.” Indeed, there were very few wrinkles left, if any, as the grooves continued to pulsate via the electro-jam “Take Me With U,” the sing-a-long staple “Raspberry Beret” and even a funked up cover of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough.”
Prince also had no trouble taking the audience’s breath away with the beautiful ballad “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which didn’t just soar with his flawless falsetto, but found hometown hero Jennifer Hudson popping up from center stage to serve as a surprise, richly soulful duet partner. “The time for division is over,” continued Prince once he returned to the solo spotlight, and after strapping back on the guitar, dove head first into the obligatory but ageless “Purple Rain” (accented by colored confetti blasts that covered ever centimeter of the love symbol-shaped stage).
After the dance floor dominator “Controversy,” an encore kept the hits coming on overdrive, but cramming classics like “When Doves Cry,” “Sign O The Times,” a mere instrumental tease of “Darling Nikki” and “I Would Die 4 U” (amongst others) into a medley was far from the ideal presentation. At least the sputtering “Kiss” and a jazzy rearrangement of “Little Red Corvette” were performed in their entirety, with the latter inciting such a hearty round of cheers that another presumably unscripted encore came ten minutes after the houselights turned back on. (The previous night’s reports indicated a near hour wait before the final encore).
In fact, the final segment of the two-and-a-half hour evening was by far the most spontaneous as Prince invited several fans from the front few rows on stage and whimsically called out a lightening round of covers and originals, most notably, Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately,” The Jackson 5’s “Dancing Machine” and his own “Partyman.” When all was said and done, the purple powerhouse turned in a near perfect show that was heavy on the hits, ingenious with the jams, clever with the covers and an all around testament to his jaw dropping showmanship.