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Royalty Has Arrived

the artitst formerly known as prince
Jam of the Year: TAFKAP waits for San Jose's response.

George Sakkested

TAFKAP gets his royal groove
on in San Jose

By Todd S. Inoue

I asked my wife--a diehard TAFKAP fan--why she wasn't bumping the albums or bragging to her friends. "It's hard to get excited for this show," she said, "there's no buildup!" She and 7,000 others (including a number of rat-faced ticket brokers) were crushed last week that the Artist Formerly Known As Prince had sent word that the ducats some had camped out all weekend to get were now worth face value at the BASS outlet.

But it was only the beginning of the emotional roller coaster that Bay Area TAFKAP fans would endure as the Artist rescheduled his show--and added a second one--one week after the postponed date.

Some have whispered "publicity stunt." How else could a show--two shows!--be arranged so fast with the vouchers in place in less than a week? This is America, where getting a mail-ordered shirt takes at least two months (see the Pearl Jam show at Golden Gate Park for a good example).

It was no surprise that the shows were not sold out. Up until show time, one could walk up the sides of the floor (the show was general admission) and touch the guardrail. His Royal Badness was within 20 feet--a perfect spot to watch the Artist's myriad of game faces.

A plastic TAFKAP placard stood in place on stage, and the sound system played the Emancipation CD. The crowd, many of whom had never stepped foot in a general-admission show judging by the way they were dressed, didn't need a lot of prep work. They heated up faster than microwave popcorn. Even the bass and guitar tech were cheered.

the artitst formerly known as prince
George Sakkested

Purple Regin: TAFKAP goes piano surfing.

Low Moan

The lights lowered and the audience emitted a squeal that combined expectation, ecstasy, frustration and hormones. TAFKAP entered wearing purple sequins (with lining, you couldn't see his package) under a white jacket adorned with his personal glyph and "NPG."

The Artist soaked up the roars. He strutted across the stage and flashed a west coast "W" as if he had hit a home run. On his hand was a set list scrawled with a Sharpie. He looked regal, stone-cold funky, ready to rock and wreck shop.

The band is perhaps his most low-key yet. None of the star names like the Revolution or early NPG. No silky dancers. Not even regulars Sheila E. or MC Scrappy D. The biggest names on the stage were drummer Kirk Johnson and harmonica player Sugar Blue. The show was strictly about the Man and his music.

And how was the music? Bad-ass. "Jam of the Year" was the first, and it set the tone with its high-highs and elastic bass tones. The group condensed James Brown's "Talking Loud/Saying Nothing" and added its own Minneapolis date stamp to it. The vamp lasted long, about 10 minutes. "Is it OK if I take my time tonight? Is it all right if we just jam with you tonight? I'm in that mood," he said.

After getting married and adopting the glyph has he changed? Not much. He conjures the "aaaaooooup" scream with ease. He's still nasty but with reservations. During "Talking Loud," he crawled on top of the piano, pile-drived two deep pelvic plunges then quickly got up, waved "no-no" with his index finger and pointed straight to his wedding ring.

Purple Reign

After "Talking Loud," "Purple Rain" surprised nearly everyone except followers of the Uptown Web site. The Artist used the song as a platform to show off his underrated guitar skills and deep faith. "Purple Rain" removed the shroud of sex to reveal his divinity. "Get Yo Groove On" lead to "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World," which he played with all the sincerity of a spotlight dance. He extended it, returning to his lavender-colored piano and scatted out the close.

TAFKAP has an aggressive side ("Bob George," "Eye Hate U"), which he kept hidden until "Face Down." He intro'd it as a song about "motherfuckers who try to rule you." He came with it, strapped with a bass and peeled off a fuzz solo that would make Bootsy quake.

After a bleedingly sincere version of Joan Osborne's "One of Us," the Artist took a break and re-emerged with red sequined pajamas. "Do Me Baby" and "Sexy MF" satiated the early fans.

"If I Was Your Girlfriend" sent Sign O' the Times flashbacks. The audience returned the "pleeeeeease" part on cue. The soft set ended with "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore"--performed delicately on piano.

The Artist did his share of teasing throughout the night. "17 Days" led into "Get Yo Groove On." "Condition of the Heart" spun into "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore," which led into a drop-in of the familiar piano tinkle of "Diamonds and Pearls."

Rosie Gaines was nowhere to be seen that night. As most Prince fans know, he won't perform the song with anyone else, so the moment passed and deflated the audience a little.

Joyful versions of "Take Me With U" and "Raspberry Beret" turned the corner towards the home stretch, which he slammed shut with the heavy groove of "Mr. Happy." Eight of the slinkiest lycra-clad dancers in the front row were hand-picked and got their groove on onstage.

the artitst formerly known as prince
George Sakkested

Love Gun: TAFKAP doesn't miss too often when aiming for a good time.

Jam on It

For the encore, he re-emerged in a Ricky Ricardo outfit while talking to Mayte on a cellular phone. He left the phone on the piano and played her "The Holy River." Over the intro, he said the next round of tunes will make you "freaky," "lost" and "rambunctious."

Maybe he got caught up in the moment because he veered into "Girls and Boys" and "Scandalous" before he returned to Mayte. She had hung up. He spoke into the phone, looked into it, pressed the "end" button and slid it under the piano.

"Scandalous" was the last vestige of order for the night. The rest of the show was devoted to an uptight and outta-sight extended jam straight out of Paisley Park studios. It was Minneapolis funk with the Artist leading the band members and conducting the call-and-response ("Free the slaves!").

He showed off his ass, dragged his pelvis across the stage to the piano, ripped some honky-tonk solos, did a funked-up dance on the piano top, ran up and down the side risers and slapped hands with fans. Then he said goodnight and disappeared. Was it the Jam of the Year? Top five, definitely.

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