Any hint of frustration you might have felt after the 50 minute delay, mostly due to massive lineups and rigorous security search for cameras (quite pointless in the era of smartphone), would have melted away once the lights went out and the funky royalty appeared on the stage. No matter what you think about him, his ego or his sometimes eccentric behavior, one thing is undeniable – never in history of music has that much charisma been packed in such a small bundle.
Not many artists would have dared to play their biggest hit as the second song of the show but there it was, Purple Rain, with a literal rain of purple glitter from above and an amazing guitar solo after he politely asked the crowd ‘Y’all don’t mind if I play my guitar’. It felt like a grand finale and we were only 5 minutes into the show. Rogers Arena was turned into a dancing, screaming frenzy from that moment on. For the next two hours he and his amazing band laid down the hits and the packed house responded by shaking our hips. Delirious and Let’s Go Crazy followed with brilliant performance by legendary saxophonist Maceo Parker. 1999 sounded fresh and funky and it was hard to believe that the first time I danced to that tune was nearly three decades ago.
Prince is one of the rare artist who mixes up his setlist every show and you never know what you’re gonna hear. Vancouver crowd was treated to quite a few covers, including an homage to Vancouver’s resident Sarah Maclachlan (Prince’s backup singers performed a beautiful version of Angel – I wondered if Sarah was in the audience). We were also the first fortunate souls on Welcome2Canada tour to hear the cover of The Doobie Brothers song Long Train Runnin’.
I couldn’t tell you what the highlights of the show were because there was something magical happening non-stop. That euphoria from the beginning lasted throughout the show and after the first encore was finished with an incredible performance of Nothing Compares 2 U and the Arena house lights went up, majority of the crowd stayed up on their feet applauding, screaming and hollering. Some people packed up and left but the faithful majority was rewarded for their 15 minutes of fervor by another encore set which featured a medley of Prince classics including my favorite When Doves Cry.
For some lucky ones the night wasn’t over even then. Prince turned up at the afterparty at Barnone in Yaletown at 2:30 am and entertained a small crowd that paid ‘only’ $100 cover (most of the tickets for the Rogers Arena show were more than that) until 4:30 in the morning. All of that sounds even more amazing when you remember that he is 53 and that he had another packed venue waiting for him the next day in Victoria.