Friends of ours bought us tickets to see Prince at Madison Square Garden. It was my first Prince show ever and now I’m wondering how I waited so long to see him.
Prince’s stage was shaped like that symbol he changed his name to years ago. After an opening act by the comedian Sinbad, legendary bass player Larry Graham took the stage with his band Graham Central Station after wading through the crowd like a marching band. Larry Graham invented the bass slapping technique used by Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Bootsy Collins from Parliament-Funkadelic and too many other great bass players. After a couple of songs and a bass solo he sang his 1980 hit ballad “One in a Million” and then told us that last time he was on stage at MSG was with his old band Sly and the Family Stone.
They played Sly’s Family Affair, Dance to the Music and Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin). During Everyday People they started marching out like they were leaving, but Prince and his entire band came up through the stage and joined in. Niki worked in radio and between us we have been to hundreds of concerts and we’ve never seen a headlining act come out and jam with the opening act during their set. The crowd was in a frenzy. It was amazing. They ended with I Want to Take You Higher and both bands left the stage.
With the lights still off, Prince began with Welcome 2 America.
Next he covered Sylvester’s Dance (Disco Heat). The crowd went nuts when he did three straight songs from Purple Rain: Baby I’m a Star, The Beautiful Ones (with a gorgeous ballet dancer) and Let’s Go Crazy. After that he played Delirious, 1999, Shhh, Uptown, Raspberry Beret, Cream, The Time’s song Cool and Let’s Work. A couple of times he smiled and remarked “Too many hits.” No kidding. Prince seemed more like a 25-year-old than 52.
During U Got the Look, Sheila E. joined him on stage. She stood at a drum set for her hit The Glamorous Life. Prince came back out for Nothing Compares 2 U and ended the main set with Purple Rain.
Some of the set lists for shows in Europe list as many as four encores. We got two. The first one was Kiss, with an extended instrumental introduction. For the final encore song, Prince invited a bunch of celebrities up from the audience. Our show ended with thirty people on stage dancing to Sheila E’s A Love Bizarre — including Questlove from the Roots, Whoopi Goldberg, Jamie Foxx, Spike Lee, Sherri Shepherd, John Leguizamo, Sinbad and Graham Central Station.
Via Hollywood Reporter:
In a career filled with idiosyncratic twists and turns, Prince made one of his more baffling choices at Madison Square Garden Saturday night, the first NYC date of his Welcome 2 America tour — he actually gave the people what they wanted.
While many of the prolific star’s past shows have veered into unfamiliar territory filled with obscurities and lengthy funk instrumental jams, this one was a crowd-pleasing compendium of hits that were mostly decades old, many of them culled from his landmark Purple Rain and 1999 discs. And while the headliner comically groused at one point by muttering, “Too many hits,” he played them with a freshness and ferocity that resulted in a galvanizing show that thrilled the sold-out crowd.