Prince – Rogers Arena – December 16, 2011
Coming out of smoke amidst a virtual thunderstorm, a golden sequin clad Prince, took to the Rogers Arena stage to even more thunderous applause as the opening bars of Gold began to play. The stage, set in-the-round, was the iconic symbol Prince used in place of his name in the mid-ninties, allowed maximum exposure to all of the arena seats. A VIP ticket section was created within the cross arms of the stage, cocktail table seating created a lounge like feel around the stage. The multi-generational audience was clearly ready for the pop icon to take them back through his massive catalogue of hits. They were not disappointed as he performed a selection of his biggest singles like; Purple Rain, Let’s Go Crazy, Kiss, When Doves Cry and of course 1999.
In fact, it felt a bit like 1999 as the Rogers Arena staff were stringently adhering to Prince’s No Photos rule, cameras and bags had to be checked, mobile phones were kept out of sight. The number of security and arena staff on hand to ensure there were no slips, was one of the largest I’ve ever seen, surrounding the outer ring of the floor but also ringing the stage and VIP section.
His back up support band, The New Power Generation, plus guest saxophone legend Maceo Parker, were a major part of the show each being introduced and featured during the set. The three back-up singers even performed a cover of Sarah McLachlan’s , Angel, on their own. This was one of a number covers, for some one with a massive repertoire like Prince, it’s great to see what music influences and appeals to him. The Beatles, Sly & The Family Stone, The Doobie Brothers, Ohio Players and Michael Jackson were all covered during the 135 minute set. The sensational set included a final encore that came nearly 15minutes after the ‘end’ with the house lights on and featured a medley of Prince’s big hits, in a free-style funkified session. The whole show was simply about the great music, a simple stage (shown left, preshow), limited special effects, just good music from one of the greatest performers ever.