Tacoma Dome, Tacoma WA, 12/19/11
Can I just get something off my chest first before I talk about the show – I hate Tacoma. I’m sure there are lots of good, hard-working people there, salt of the earth. But my experience with Tacoma has been less than pleasurable. Getting to the Tacoma Dome – which is the local spot where the monster trucks go when they come to town – sucks. There isn’t an easy way in or out, we waited in hellatious traffic to get to the show, sure we were going to miss a good portion. Prince waited for us, thankfully. But, it was like that scene in Swingers when they are on their way to Vegas full of vim and vigor as soon as they leave LA and then 1/2 way into the desert, they are tapped out, they JUST WANT THE RIDE TO BE OVER. But our energy would come back soon enough.
Everybody who I told that I was going to see Prince that night was upset that they too didn’t have a ticket. “Man, I should have gotten a ticket for that…” was the general reaction. Our carload of 4 were feeling pretty good about ourselves as we headed down to see Prince. I mean…Prince! We four thirty-somethings each had our own rich history with Prince. Mine went back to the 80s when MTV started, college when his songs would light up parties to some of my most treasured memories in NYC. One of my favorite memories of that city is ending the night in some cave like bar at 4am when the bartender-turned-iPod-DJ played Purple Rain really f’n loud and the whole place did shots and screamed the song at the top of our collective lungs. Prince just makes people feel good.
My wife and I made our wedding band play Purple Rain as one the songs they would learn and made it the last song they played at the reception. The feelings it evokes are unmistakable.
So, ok fine, we had a lot of history with Prince, but none of us had actually seen him. The stories of his live shows are legendary. Long sets, unpredictable, always great shows. Seems nobody has ever been disappointed by a Prince show. This show proved the rule. If you saw Prince perform a few years back at the Super Bowl, that’s basically the stage set up he had. His stage was in the shape of his “symbol”, with his “band in the round” at one end and a piano on one of the “arms” off the side and not to far from my wife and I. A keyboardist was then off the end of the stage from the band, sort of separated off in the middle of the floor crowd. You’d expect that was the sound board, but apparently it was another keyboardist.
People were going nuts for the show. There were all sorts there, great people watching. There were the aging classic rock types – which I guess me and my friends would have been – the club party set, the hippy party set. It was a great eclectic crowd. And it was a great eclectic show.
I mean, I knew Prince was talented, but damn, that little dude is TALENTED. I feel old saying that, it seems that whenever old people rave about a performer, they say how multi-talented they are. “They can sing, they can dance.” Well, Prince can sing and Prince can dance. The guy does it all.
For the most part, the whole show was one long mix of hits. He didn’t quite play a whole song, but he would play most of it and the parts that counted. Little Red Corvette, Raspberry Beret, Purple Rain, a bunch of songs I don’t know the name to but I know I’ve heard and tapped feet to many a time.
The highlights were Purple Rain which started with its long jam and ended in that amazing guitar solo. One of the best guitar solos ever. It was a spectacle, of course that’s the song everyone there wants to see. Confetti rained down from the sky, Prince ripped that guitar up. He’s such a good guitarist. Unbelievable. A co-worker came by the other day and asked if I had seen Prince’s performance at George Harrisons induction ceremony. Watch it here. Watch that and you’ll see the confidence, the control and the attitude that Prince also brought to this show.
He ripped up the guitar, he danced like a maniac, he made people go crazy, he sounded awesome, his band ripped. It was all there. Another highlight was this part of the show where he “played’ at the “piano” that was at the end of the stage nearest where we were sitting. He played this piano, which also doubled as a mixing/sound board. It was this drum and bass club section of the show straight out of a Daft Punk show. He sang, he sampled in his own songs and played a mix of a bunch more hits. The whole stage was an equalizer, as was the side of his piano and the screen in front of the extra keyboard. The whole place pulsed. It was awesome.
As it is, as cool as we thought we were going to the Prince show, apparently we didn’t stick it out for the REAL show. As often happens with a Prince show, if you dig far enough, you can find where he plays the after party. We are still Prince show rookies, so we didn’t even think to check. We should have known better. Next time. You can read about the after party here. I would gladly go see Prince again, he’s a performer, he does everything and can entertain anybody, especially himself. Go see him, just don’t see him in Tacoma.