ALL HAIL PRINCE!
If I was faced with the pressure of singlehandedly entertaining a sold-out Allphones Arena, which has a capacity of 21,000, I think I would instantaneously combust. Poof! Just like that, I’d be no more.
It follows then that the consummate ease with which he of the raspberry beret (incidentally available from the merchandise area) embarks on this task is disconcerting. We all know the classic songs – ‘Kiss’, ‘Purple Rain’, ‘When Doves Cry’, ‘Cream’ et al – but what was most illuminating about seeing Prince live for the first time was his masterful showmanship. His potent fusion of cheek, bravado, arrogance, diva turns (at one point he yelled “you’re not ready for me Sydney!” and disappeared from the stage) and dance moves to rival the late Michael Jackson is extraordinary.
In essence, he made a 21,000-capacity venue seem intimate and personal. It was as though he had thrown a big party and we were all his guests – which I suppose we were. Of course, this intimacy was also a result of the smart in-the-round set-up. The 360-degree stage worked a treat, matched by an imposing and dynamic lighting rig.
I couldn’t help thinking, during his almost three-hour set, about the state of the commercial music industry today. Standing before me was an artist in every sense of the word – an amazing singer, songwriter, musician, dancer and showman. A man who undoubtedly deserves the accolades, adoration and icon status. When you contrast him with some of the pop stars who rule today – Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Britney Spears et al – it does put things in perspective.
And that perspective isn’t always pretty. Make no mistake, there are truly phenomenal new artists emerging every year, but watching Prince did make me wonder about how deserving some current performers are, and the way the industry manufactures commercial products disguised as real artists.
Prince’s show wasn’t perfect – I could criticise the lulls created by over-extended instrumental interludes, his tendency to perform medleys instead of full songs, the way he turned the microphone to the audience to sing lines I wanted to hear him sing, and making us wait what must have been 20 minutes for a insanely short and insignificant encore – but regardless, it was a privilege to see one of the legends of the music industry do his thing so brilliantly. I was very close to sobbing during ‘Purple Rain’.
His recent conversion to the... ah... let’s say problematic... Jehovah’s Witnesses may disturb many, including myself, but nothing can ultimately detract from Prince’s music.
An incredible evening.
A third show on Tuesday, May 22 is on sale now. Head to ticketek.com.au.