At this point, fans planning to attend any of Prince's 21 shows at the Los Angeles Forum (4 in, he's got 17 to go) can count on a few things: flashy/foxy get-ups, celeb guests (dancing and/or singing), plenty of purple people in the crowd, exquisite hit medleys, and a crazy-ass, epic procession of encores.
Well, scrap that last one. You are very likely to be treated to a crazy-ass, epic procession of encores, but there is always the chance that you won't. Our luck, Friday night, we attended the one show, that so far, did not feature a lights on, then off again fake-out before another astounding, marathon “secret second show” within the show. Unless you call a bizarre bike ride around the Forum floor a “show.”
Let's be clear here. Prince's Friday set was 100% sonically satisfying. Beyond actually. He opened with newer material (the funkalicious “Beginning Endlessly,” and the brand new track, “Laydown”) before segueing into hits (“Take Me With You,” “Raspberry Beret,” and the suggestive “Cream”) and covers (“Don't Stop Til You Get Enough” into The Time's “Cool,” “Hollywood Swingin'” followed by his Sheena Easton duet, “You Got The Look”) and guests (Cuba Gooding Jr. and Sheila E boogied about the “symbol in the round” runway-like stage and new mama Alicia Keys made a surprise visit to sing a stirring “How Come You Don't Call me Anymore” with Prince accompanying on piano and backup vox).
The entire room -including Mr. Dave Grohl in the loge area not far from us- was flying high by the time he got to the mega-hits medley (“When Doves Cry/Nasty Girl/Sign O The Times/Alphabet St./The Most Beautiful Girl In the World/Darling Nikki”). The mash-up was both fabulous and frustrating, since only “Doves” was sang in its entirety while more provocative numbers -“Nikki” & “Nasty”- were only intro snippets. Even though the crowd wanted more, he meshed them so well, no one was complaining.
It was a different story, however after Prince's two sweet but somewhat short encores: 1) “DMSR,” “Controversy” 2) “Purple Rain.” Both were just as good as they could possibly be, and since they were seemingly planned, we didn't have to wait for them long. But when the lights came on pretty much nobody left their seats. Thanks to reviews like this one as well as ecstatic word of mouth, Prince's propensity for impromptu jams at the end of these LA dates is common knowledge. (We knew he fancied 'em since this funk til dawn experience). So we waited and we waited. Almost an hour after the house lights came on, the crowd dwindled to about half-full, fans did the wave, and chants of “We Want Prince” broke out. And then, he emerged … on a bike, riding around grinning and then rolling out, never to return.
Another half hour later, with only a few hundred people chanting (“Hell no, we wont go!” “Tell Prince to make us leave!”) and security guards ranting (one female Forum employee who obviously wanted to go home told us if we weren't going to get up, we had to help her clean up, pointing to plastic cups on the ground), the hardcore tamborine-toting purple peeps holding out hope finally gave it up and we followed suit.
We got 90 minutes of live music versus opening night's 3+ hours. The other three shows he's done thus far were longer as well. So is the lesson here not to go on a Friday? Perhaps if there's a big name special guest like Keys performing, he doesn't play as long (something to keep in mind as Gwen Stefani is rumored to join him soon)? Whatever the case may be, this we can say for sure: Prince will never be predictable! Short or long set, the only thing you can count on is that he will not only entertain, he will seduce on stage. That said, we will definitely be back for more (and hopefully A LOT more) before The Forum residency ends.
Friday Night's Setlist:
She's Always In My Hair
Future Soul Song
Cool/Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough
Let's Work (mostly instrumental, played in the dark)
Hollywood Swingin' (“Inglewood Swingin')
U Got The Look
Misty Blue (Shelby vox)
How Come You Don't Call Me Anymore (with Alicia Keys)
When Doves Cry/Nasty Girl/Sign O' The Times/TMBGITW/Darling Nikki
If I Was Your Girlfriend
More pics in this week's Nightranger slideshow.
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