On April 19th, I was lucky enough to catch Prince at the Showbox in Seattle, WA. The concert began before the curtains even opened. With the first notes of “Let’s Go Crazy” strummed on heavy, distortion-seeped guitar, bright light flooded over the top of the curtains. As they swung open, a light display of dancing decibels on an LED screen blinded the audience. And from the light emerged the backlit silhouette of Prince. Calmly sauntering down stage, his shadow had more fierceness in it than most fully lit performers.
I was close enough to see varied wry smiles, my wife (right up front – that’s my girl!) was close enough to see the heavy makeup on his face.
The spotlight may have been set on Prince and his guitar, but there was another name on the marquee next to his. His backing band, 3rd Eye Girl, weren’t there to simply provide the foundation. Towering over him, Hannah Ford (drums), Donna Grantis (guitar), and Ida Nielsen (bass), decked out in leather pants, studs, glittering headbands, and wild hair, were like glamazon rock warriors. Each packed formidable musical chops and played an integral part of the team with Prince assuming the role of master bandleader and controlling the flow of the music with a point of the finger or a head nod.
This seemed to be a new Prince—one who seeped his music in a wash of feedback, distortion, and psychedelic visuals and rung it out when he wanted to slow things down. Rock ’n roll numbers such as “Bambi” scorched through the speakers at a volume that blurred the line between permanent ear damage and the softest harmony to create something beautifully arresting. During the instrumental “jam” periods I heard echoes of Jimmy Page and Jimi Hendrix. This is a Baaad Man on the guitar!
By the first encore, it became apparent that this concert wasn’t about resurrecting old tropes or styles; it was about the music. It was about forging a distinctively new experience: one drenched in funk-heavy jams. If there were any dissidents in the crowd, their jeers were drowned out by the explosion of applause after each song. Even without many hits, Prince had the crowd wrapped around his perfectly manicured finger—yeah, we were that close!
I would have paid double for this show (paid $550 for two). I will remember this show for the rest of my life..and to my wife’s joy he did “Purple Rain” as the last song of our evening. This was the first time he performed that tune on this tour and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I could just look at the tears on my wife’s face as we left to confirm that.
Let’s Go Crazy
She’s Always in My Hair
I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man/Summertime
2 Young 2 Dare
Cause and Effect
Sign “O” the Times
Forever in My Life
– Submitted by Michael Griffin, Music Design