In the hyperactive, fantasy world of funk-rocker Prince, purple money falls from the sky, everyone dances perfectly in 3-inch heels and it’s not unusual to recite the Lord’s Prayer, simulate sex and be gunned down by cops – all before intermission.
Prince brought his “Lovesexy ’88” bag of tricks to the Charlotte Coliseum on Saturday night. Before an adoring crowd of about 16,000, he pranced through a more than two-hour celebration of the pleasures of the flesh and the ecstasy of God.
During the first set, Prince let his libido run free on songs like “Housequake,” “When You Were Mine” and an extended blues trip that had him addressing the audience seductively as “sweet Carolina” as if it were a woman.
Making his entrance in a vintage white T-Bird, he moved through a quick menage a trois scene with singer and dancer Cat and drummer Sheila E. (both dressed as if they’d stepped out of a lingerie ad) before getting down to business with some dazzling guitar and falsetto fireworks.
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Neither Prince nor the eight members of his band stopped moving for a minute. They roamed around a three-tiered, 70-by-80-foot stage outfitted with a basketball court, hydraulic bed, swing set and a complex web of rising and falling props that changed with the singer’s mood. (The 100 tons of high-tech gear for the in-the-round stage included a series of retractable steel towers manufactured by the Rock Hill company, Amida Industries.)
At the end of the first set, Prince told the audience: “I gave you the first half because I thought that’s what you expected.... I’m ready to go higher, are you?”
With that, he launched into the spirit-filled strains of “Anna Stesia” – setting forth his spiritual vision of God, love, sex and romance joined as one.
As he promised, the second set was heavy on the Holy Spirit – with songs like “I Wish U Heaven.”
At times he seemed to be delivering a sermon, exhorting the crowd as he rose to the ceiling on a moving column: “God is alive. He lives inside all of us. He just wants to come out and play.”
With his impassioned mix of rock, funk, psychedelic gospel and wide-eyed soul, Prince showed the crowd that his spiritual and physical selves could play up a storm.
But at times, there was just too much going on.
Fragments of “Delirious,” “Controversy” and even “Little Red Corvette” popped up throughout the first set without the Purple One bothering to finish any of the tunes before racing on to yet another change of props or another dance with his sexy song- and-dance partner, Cat.
An extremely muddy sound mix only magnified this disjointed feeling of the music I heard before deadline.
Prince is a man with so many ideas – musical and theatrical – that he could easily divide the total in half and still outpace most rockers on the road today.
It was ambitious to try to pack so much into his $2 million Lovesexy show. Scaling back just a bit would have made the show hang together with a little less manic energy and a little more cohesive spirit.
But hey, it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, and Prince knows how to guarantee that you never get bored.