As a young man growing up in the 80s, I enjoyed Prince’s music, but never really had a desire to see him in concert. That hadn’t changed much over the years, particularly as I heard of some of his antics in live shows, such as keeping the lights down, espousing his political views, refusing to play his hits, leaving early, etc.
But Prince is Prince. He is one of our few remaining pop icons. So when tickets were sold for shows in Louisville, I decided to give it a shot.
Prince rewarded us Sunday night with his best behavior during the third of his four intimate “pop-up” events at the Louisville Palace over the weekend. The result was one of the finest nights of entertainment I’ve ever enjoyed. Decked all in purple, Prince sang and danced like the Prince of old. He played his hits, but with a little different flavor, making them familiar, yet fresh, starting with “Let’s Go Crazy.” And perhaps most surprising, at least to me, he genuinely seemed to enjoy himself and the audience.
Prince frequently invited the audience to sing along, even bringing one lucky member on stage. He weaved Kentucky references into his songs. He shouted with glee to the balcony. In short, he was the ultimate showman.
Prince was also playful. He updated the lyric in “Kiss” to “You don’t have to watch ‘Love and Hip Hop’ to Have an Attitude.” Midway through the set, he joked he’d like to continue, but “he’d run out of hits,” perhaps lampooning himself. Of course, he hadn’t … and the hits kept coming, well into the night, until the very last note of Purple Rain.
This show was a homecoming for Prince’s drummer, Louisville native Hannah Ford of 3RDEYEGIRL. She definitely put her stamp on it, flailing away at the drums like a pop version of Keith Moon. It all added up to one great night of power pop and funk without the moralizing or any other hint of Prince’s peccadillos.