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Nothing Compares 2 U: Prince and 3rd Eye Girl @ The Grove, 5/7/13

“It’s been so lonely without u here
Like a bird without a song
Nothing can stop this lonely rage
Tell me baby where did I go wrong”

~”Nothing Compares 2 U”, Prince

To Prince or not to Prince was the question on my mind for months as this concert remained unconfirmed on my calendar.

The Cons: at $200 a ticket, the show was pricey, not to mention I promised myself when I saw him at his club in Las Vegas in 2006 (for $125) that I would NEVER go see Prince alone again. It’s date night for everyone!

The Pros: It’s Prince, need I say more….except that my only other Prince show was a mere month before starting this site, so I don’t have a good documented record of my reactions.

IMG_2834At 11:15pm on a Tuesday night, I found myself clutching a $150 ticket standing next to a scalper who I was forcing to stay in line with me until I made sure the ticket was legit. This is the first time I’ve used a scalper in a long time, and no, I don’t feel good about it. But saving $75 in ticket price + fees made it more bearable that I was the lone single gal entering the Grove that night, again.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

One thing that hasn’t changed is Prince.

I was surprised to be able to walk into the venue and straight up to the stage, where I would be one person from it. I was surrounded by older couples, girls’ night out groups, and a few awkward man-dates. But the thing we all had in common was that we were all super excited.

Introduced by the drummer who came to the mic to remind everyone of what they had already been told at least three times: that no photos were allowed. Now, I hate the person who holds their phone in the air all night long as much as you do, but I found myself having to remind myself at least three times to not whip out my phone for what would have surely been some of the best instagrams I have ever taken. It’s a natural part of my concert experience nowadays. But, the night will remain visually undocumented.

At about 11:45pm, the curtain lifted to reveal 3rd Eye Girl, Prince’s exquisite backing band of Hannah Ford on drums, Ida Nielsen on bass, and Donna Grantis on guitar. Prince was standing back near the drums, smirking at the crowd, knowingly taking the hit of adoring stares the whole room instantly threw in his direction. His hair, a modest afro; he was wearing black pants under a sleeveless, turtleneck tunic adorned by a large metal necklace. And heels. At least 2 inch heels.

IMG_2835As he struted towards the guitar at the front of the stage, I watched the diverse crowd around me collectively lose their shit. All guitars were tethered to their boards by curly q cords, everyone sparkled in certains spots, and a large LED screen began to dish out visuals and words. The atmosphere immediately became some yearless amalgamation of the decades spanning Prince’s career.

I was so close that when the show truly began, and I realized I was in the front lines of the strobe light, I felt like I almost got electrocuted when it turned on. But it didn’t deter me from staying right where I was. I could see Prince’s pores; the man has not aged a day. I’m not that girl who finds him attractive, but the sexuality that he exudes has definitely not faded away.

The show essentially began the moment he started strumming the guitar. That is what I was there for; not the disco dance tracks, not the voice, not the dance moves…though those were all awesome. I was there for one of the best guitarists of all time.

I will admit that I don’t completely understand Prince, and that is why I consider him one of the true artists living today. Let’s just say it: he’s weird. And I love weirdos. There are entire series of SNL skits about his weirdness, you could write a thesis on the eccentricities of the way he looks, the way he constructs his shows, the way he writes and records music…it’s all weird. Can you think of anyone in the past 10 years or so who’s even remotely like this? Tell me if so. The man changed his name to a symbol for a while and we all went with it!

But when he plays the guitar, I understand him. I may not even know or like what he’s playing, but there’s something about the way he plays that just transcends. It rises above, into that space where only people who have truly mastered the instrument can take it. And I’ve seen A LOT of guitarists in my day. It’s rare. And it was practically in my face at times.

My only wish was that he played more guitar that night.

As a whole, the show barely touched on the hits that were all played the other time that I had seen him. Instead, there would be more deep cuts and newer material. A middle section of the show would feature a dance party that he sort of DJ’ed and sang on a medley of some of his more famous numbers with his backing band, while people who at first I thought were being pulled out for taking photos appeared on stage to dance around. The final section of the show had him at the piano most of the time, singing and playing beautifully. The highlight of the night would have to be “Nothing Compares 2 U”, shortly followed by “She’s Always in My Hair”.

On this night, Prince became less of an enigma to me. I could see how much he connected with the audience, working hard to please them. I also appreciated how the show was crafted: it honored all of the musicians and put the music first, but still had a nice production to back it up. But mainly, I was able to witness how much of a total package Prince is: from the songs to the musicianship, the dancing and the unexplainable charisma. An intimate show with a legend is truly priceless.

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