Saturday, August 14, 2004

The artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince

The symbol still works. Yeah, that weird one.

Prince delivered a dynamite, booty-shaking concert a MCI Center on Friday night, and I was fortunate to have witnessed it. I've always wanted to witness a Prince concert because he's one of the few funky mofos left in the music industry. You see I used the word "witness" because I'm not a die-hard fan of the artist and I don't know all of his songs, but his energy, showmanship, and electrifying stage performance have earned my respect. Plus, he always has a top-notch funky backing band with him, á la James Brown and Van Morrison.

This time, he features the usually reliable and remarkable Maceo Parker and Candy Dulfer on saxes, Greg Boyer on trombone, an unknown Japanese keyboardist, a funky bi-racial female slap bassist Rhonda (with whom Prince often jammed), and the super-muscular athlete John Blackwell on drums (who played magic tricks with his drumsticks).

While the backing band was awesome as hell, Prince was still a pretty charming MF. His impromptu dancing and moving on stage occasionally earned applause from the audience. His song selection was appropriate. Started off with the title track of his new CD Musicology, also the name of the tour, amd moved on to cult hits like "When Doves Cry" and "Kiss". He gave plenty of solos to his amazing band members. During the intermission, he also let the Japanese keyboardist do a Yanni-like synth solo and Maceo sing "Georgia on My Mind," paying homage to the late great Ray Charles. Prince also did an 8-song acoustic set singing everything from "Peach" to the blues. He's proficient on both the guitar and bass.

After a much-demanded encore longing, Prince, or the symbol, finished the show with "Nothing Compares To U" and "Purple Rain," ending a unique musical journey. The makeup of the audience was 50% white and 50% black. And when Prince was doing the acoustic set, a lot of the black spectators were motionless.

I must say I respect Prince for his music and who he is. He's an entertainer and he's smart enough to cater to both black and white listeners. His music is often challenging and uncompromising, though not all of his songs listenable. But as my comrade Clarence Turner puts it, he's one of the few funky mofos still doing it, and let's hope he keeps funk alive!

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