My Last Time With Prince Included Only A Piano And A Microphone..

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Were you a Prince fan?

What kind of impression did Prince’s music leave on you?

Check out my video response below:

Old Simo YouTube video library here

Exactly one year ago I awoke to text and Facebook messages telling me that Prince had died. Disbelief quickly turned into shock. Prince has always been one of my all time favorite musicians.

David Bowie had passed away a few months before that. Loosing two music icons within months of each other was quite a hit. After the shock wore off I was so grateful that I had seen Prince at the Melbourne Arts centre months prior to his death.

My best friend notified me of the Prince Piano & A Microphone tour. We had attended two other Prince Australia tours. They were stadium tours in 2004 and 2012. They were both wonderful and I was expecting more of the same. However, my friend told me that this would be a concert at the arts centre. There was literally no advertising for it, with the exception of some social media activity.

The Prince Piano & A Microphone tour promised Prince at his most intimate. I immediately bought a ticket to one of his four shows.  I always research concert tour set lists because I like to be prepared for what I am going to hear. This was futile with Prince concerts. His set lists are never the same. Each show is different and dependent on his mood and frame of mind.

When I arrived at the Arts Centre, there was nothing to suggest that Prince was performing with the exception of one poster in the foyer. Mobile phones were also not allowed to be used during the concert. This was a wonderful rule. It forced people to be one with Prince. Instead of being  focused on videoing footage and loosing the effect of the live show, they focused on him.

I was desperately hoping to hear Nothing Compares 2 U and The Love We Make. Those two Prince songs have always alluded me in concert! Prince promised intimacy and he delivered it. He entered the stage space and sat by his piano surrounded by candles. No back up singers or dancers. No fancy visuals. Just a good old fashioned music concert.

He opened with Big City and Ruff Enuff, two songs that I was not familiar with. I noticed that he was not his usual upbeat self. It all made sense. Vanity had died the day before the concert.

She was his former back up singer, former lover, creative creation and  muse. Vanity 6 was a band that Prince had assembled. It helped Vanity launch a brief but moderately successful solo career in the 80s. He referred to her by her real name (Denise) and dedicated the whole show to her.

After his second song, Prince did what he never does. He opened up! Prince started talking to the audience about his sorrow over Vanity’s death. He reminisced about their time together in the 80s. It was a rare glimpse into a very private man. This was an indication that we were not in for a funky uptempo set. Rather, a moody and melancholic set. No complaints from me! This was different!

He did the most haunting mash up of Little Red Corvette and Dirty Mind. He dedicated it to Vanity. “I guess I should have known by the way you parked your car sideways…..” he cried out like a howling wounded wolf. I instantly got goosebumps all over my body. It was the most sensational and moving rendition.

He also indulged in some covers. No one did a cover better than Prince. His ear for suitable material was impeccable. He made Waiting In Vain (Bob Marley and the Wailers) and A Case of You (Joni Mitchell) completely his own.

Other highlights included beautiful renditions of The Ladder, If I Was Your Girlfriend,  The Beautiful Ones and Starfish and Coffee. I had never heard those songs live before. The Ladder was a haunting dedication to Vanity.

Sometimes It Snows in April is one of my favorite Prince ballads. He replaced “Tracey” with “Denise”.  Every line stung the audience with emotion and sincerity. He closed with Raspberry Beret, Paisley Park, and Adore.

The concert was criticized for being too short. I was annoyed when I found out that the Sydney concerts got ten more songs than the Melbourne concerts. But I got over that quickly. I was lucky to have not only seen him a third time live before he died. but also lucky to have seen him at his most vulnerable, intimate and open. It was a rare musical treat that I will always cherish.

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