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[whitespace] Royal Night

Prince made even his oldest material sound fresh at last week's show

By Sarah Quelland

I'VE ALWAYS HEARD THAT a Prince show was more of an experience rather than a concert. But even after waiting 40 minutes in a line full of excited fans that snaked clear around the Event Center at San Jose State University last Friday (Dec. 8), I had no idea what the night held in store. By the time my companion and I got inside, there wasn't an empty seat to be found. Thirty more minutes would pass--anticipation building by the second--before the artist would make his grand entrance at 9:15pm.

A chill swept through my body as the lights went down signifying his arrival: How do you critique the performance of one of the most brilliant men in pop music? Prince is so much more than a novelty nostalgia act. Through all his quirky phases, the man still commands respect. There are certain albums that never grow old (AC/DC's Back in Black, Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction and Ozzy Osbourne's Blizzard of Ozz come to mind), and Prince's Purple Rain has proven to be just such a timeless recording.

Live, the diminutive genius has the beautiful ability to make even his oldest material sound fresh. He is like a skilled lover with a slow hand, and his well-paced performance was designed to give both the casual listener and the devoted fan more than their money's worth. The show was like a huge party with Prince and his band, the New Power Generation, jamming onstage.

One song flowed into another as Prince ran quickly through his vast repertoire, including "Uptown," "Controversy," "Cream," "Little Red Corvette," "Diamonds and Pearls," "The Beautiful Ones" and "Nothing Compares 2 U." While an erotic dancer in a Catholic schoolgirl uniform titillated the audience during "Darling Nikki," an emotional, almost gospel "Purple Rain" seemed to wash the crowd away.

Prince's first encore delivered his hits "Let's Go Crazy," "Take Me With U" and "When Doves Cry." He returned again for "Kiss," announcing to the adoring crowd, "Oh, I ain't through with you yet," before launching into the night's closer "Gett Off."

Despite his small stature, Prince still seemed somewhat cramped on the Event Center's medium-sized stage. Appearing to be in excellent physical condition, the 42-year-old didn't slow down once during the two-hour concert. If anything, Prince looks and sounds better and more confident than ever. His vocal range continues to defy gravity, and he plays both guitar and piano with the deft hand of an expert. When you see him perform, there's no doubting you're in the presence of royalty.

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From the December 14-20, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2000 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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