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Janet Jackson @ Save Mart Center, Fresno CA 09/24/17

This show was another one of those “big deals” for the Central Valley. A very big deal. Pop royalty was coming into town. Janet Jackson’s last visit to Fresno occurred during the 97/98 Velvet Rope Tour, 20 years ago. Fresno wasn’t originally on the touring itinerary for the 2015/2016 Unbreakable Tour. Fresno emerged as an added date following Janet’s cancellation of the original touring schedule so she could have her baby. The tour resumed with a new name, State of the World 2017, and Janet’s little one was now a tender 9 months old. This meant that showtime would be prompt and the closing notes of the night would be even more prompt, allowing for the superstar to immediately resume bonding and mommy duties following each gig. We actually felt a bit guilty coming to see her perform, you know, making the new mom sing and dance for us. We scored upper level first row seats in section 225, close to the stage (thank you, TM presale). We arrived about 30 minutes before printed show time. The lines at the entrance dragged to a snail’s pace. Thousands were still waiting to enter the venue as show time neared. We’ve been to several shows at Save Mart Center over the years, without issue, but for some reason the staff were not on it this night. From the Will Call window to the front doors, staff were inattentive or sparsely distributed. Regarding our line, as we got closer to the door, a supervisor emerged with her walkie and gave commands to the crowd to form additional lines: more yellow shirts had arrived. The pace didn’t improve. Despite the arrival of more event staff, we were stuck with the most uninterested, unconcerned, blasé staff person we’d ever encountered. The other lines moved at an efficient pace. Ours continued to painfully drag. Finally we made it into the venue and tried to grab some margaritas, only to be told as we got to the front that they ran out of margarita mix. Seriously!? So we said fuck it and went to go find our seats…only to find an older couple had taken them. A helpful usher (the only truly helpful staff of the evening) resolved the issue and the couple made their way up into the nose bleeds. We sat down, forgot about the minor mishaps and eagerly awaited the start of the show. I mean, it’s freaking Janet!!!

This tour has taken a serious tone. The theme is in keeping with and reflective of current events in the USA, especially regarding the Black Lives Matter movement and the deaths of men of color at the hands of law enforcement. A video montage opened the show reflecting such images, plus images and sound bites concerning domestic terrorism, alt-right extremism and white supremacy. It was a sobering video and in keeping with the themes of social justice in the Rhythm Nation album. And it was a fitting segue into the opening number “The Knowledge” off the same record. The track denounces unawareness and idiocy = “Prejudice: NO. Ignorance: NO. Bigotry: NO. Illiteracy: NO.” It thumped along while the crowd roared for Janet as she slowly and teasingly made here way across the stage. The song then immediately melted into “State of the World” off the same record. Janet was in awesome form. She was covered from neck to ankle for the majority of the performance, however she appeared fit and prepared for the tour, with that fiery, long pony tail splashing around like hot flames. I wouldn’t have guessed that she had a baby 9 months earlier. At 51 years of age, Janet still looked like a hot performer. She owned the house with her presence, prowled the stage like some kind of exotic jungle cat, blended into the dance routines, and used a mixture of prerecorded vocal tracks and live singing to flesh out her performance, a necessity due to the continuous physical activity happening onstage. I have to give it to Janet for filling the set to the gills with a mix of music from all her albums, even the newer stuff. We were practically spoiled with 35 songs either played in full or as interpolations and medleys. Songs from the last six records were well represented, with several tracks from Unbreakable, Janet, Damita Jo, Discipline, All For You and Velvet Rope (ok, so 20 Y.O. is the exception). Even some non-singles were performed and some other tracks that hadn’t been dusted off since the tours for those respective albums. There was a ton of value and variety to this set. This was not an oldies show or a nostalgia act. Janet wasn’t afraid to showcase the newest material and she wasn’t afraid to reach back into her history. What really got the place hot were the mega medleys including material from Control and Rhythm Nation 1814. For myself and my wife, we have a special place in our hearts for that classic material. And thankfully, it was done right! On past tours like the Velvet Rope Tour, the musicians used live instruments. They were the same songs however they lacked the authentic sounds and patches from the studio originals. During the VR tour for example, the drums were live with no triggered samples or electronic elements. They were real drums, which usually isn’t a bad thing. Same deal with the bass guitar: It was expertly played by a very capable funk/R&B player, however it sounded like a live bass guitar – not like the boomy, synthy goodness on the original recordings. Thankfully for this tour, those OG elements were back. The synths, drums and bass sounded just as they should, as they were recorded during the Control and Rhythm Nation sessions. The songs weren’t the same without that unmistakable Minneapolis Sound. To those who might not be familiar with the term Minneapolis Sound, it’s the sound and production made famous by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, who were originally members of Morris Day’s group, The Time. In the early 80s, they took elements like funk, soul, r&b, and married it with the electronic sounds of New Wave, making for a sleek, romantic sounding and stylish subgenre. Prince and The Revolution’s early records had that sound, as did records by The Time, Sheila E., The Jets, Ready For the World and for a brief moment, The Human League (Just listen to Jungle Love, Love Bizarre, Crush On You, Oh Sheila, and Human, back to back. You’ll hear what I mean).

It was a very good show overflowing with musical variety. Janet employed a diverse group of dancers of all shapes and sizes. The routines were non stop, as one song melted into another. An amateur could get whiplash at that kind of pace. The band rolled through the material with ease and without any clams. I greatly appreciated the low end, with the synth bass and electronic kick drum setting the funky mood. But despite the funky and joyous celebration that was taking place, Janet appeared reserved. She wasn’t chatty with the audience. There were moments where she looked disengaged, she looked like she’d rather be elsewhere. At one point during the set she said exactly that, she’d rather be with her little one. The concert was very well paced, uptempo and sultry with a few breathers mixed in. We’re very thankful we got to see one of the greats live and on home turf. We can proudly say that we got to experience Prince and now Janet. If only Michael were still here.

  • Opening Video
  • The Knowledge
  • State of the World
  • BURNITUP!
  • Nasty/Feedback/Miss You Much/Alright/You Want This
  • Control/What Have You Done For Me Lately/Pleasure Principle
  • Escapade/When I Think Of You/All For You
  • All Night
  • Love Will Never Do Without You
  • Interlude Mix (elements of So Excited/Feel It Boy/Enjoy/Go Deep/Together Again)
  • Again (video interlude, piano only and audience singing)
  • Twenty Foreplay
  • Where Are You Now/Come Back To Me/The Body That Loves You
  • Spending Time With You
  • No Sleep
  • Got Til It’s Gone
  • That’s the Way Love Goes
  • Island Life
  • Throb
  • Together Again
  • What About
  • If
  • Rhythm Nation
  • Black Eagle
  • New Agenda
  • Dammn Baby/I Get Lonely
  • Well Traveled
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Duran Duran + Chic featuring Nile Rodgers @ Irvine Meadows, Irvine CA 07/30/16

Chic were the perfect opener for Double D, a treat for the ears not to be missed. Personally selected by Duran Duran as their openers, Chic featuring Nile Rodgers rocked the early birds to full attention. Nile Rodgers said it himself, “we’re here to make you move!” and they did just that. Chic opened their set with a trio of 70s classics, “Everybody Dance,” “Dance Dance Dance” and “I Want Your Love.” Kimberly Davis on lead vox powered through those funk and r&b classics with flair and grace. She was on key, soulful, and soared above the band with elegance and power. Folami Ankoanda provided additional supporting and lead vocals, fleshing out the diva harmonies while making it sound like there were several women up there doing backgrounds. Davis and Ankoanda weren’t the only high quality talent, everyone in that group shined, from the horn players to the keys, to the rhythm section. Their drummer and bass player were unstoppable and the grooves were infectious. Chic was always known for having a powerhouse rhythm section. The legendary Tony Thompson and Bernard Edwards held the drumkit and bass positions with Chic during their heyday. Post Chic, Tony Thompson would go on to perform with Power Station (a Duran Duran related side project with Robert Palmer on vocals) as well as Led Zeppelin, Bowie, and Diana Ross, amongst many others. Bernard Edwards would become a prolific writer and producer, like Nile Rodgers, and go on to work with Debbie Harry, Norma Jean Wright, Sister Sledge and Diana Ross. Sadly, both legends passed away before their time due to illness: Thompson due to Kidney Cancer and Edwards due to Pneumonia. Current drummer and bassist, Ralph Rolle and Jerry Barnes, are bad-ass performers themselves, moving the Chic train along with an unrelenting rumble. Section by section, the crowd at Irvine Meadows got into the groove and the venue became one huge dance party, with the ultimate house band providing the beats. If you weren’t dancing or singing along, then you were at least smiling or wondering “what the hell’s going on?….this is cool!” At the close of the trio of Chic classics, Nile Rodgers explained that he had written and produced a number of Diana Ross tracks and they were going to launch into a medley. The group pulled off bitchin’ renditions of “I’m Coming Out” and “Upside Down,” then melting into Sister Sledge classics “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and “We Are Family.” It was cool seeing so many people respond to these 70s classics, showing those songs are just as vital and relevant now as they were when they were first recorded. The crowd surprised Rodgers before “I’m Coming Out.” Rodgers prepped the audience by teaching us the chorus, but the crowd beat him to it, singing the “…I want the world to know, got to let it shooow” part. Rodgers was all smiles.

The part of the set that sold me and made me a fan was the group’s soulful and devastatingly awesome version of Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky.” This track was originally sung by Pharell Williams. Kim Davis and the rest of the group laid down an especially moving and funky version of the song. Russell Graham began the song on keyboards, delicately laying down the opening chords, whole notes, while Rodgers introduced the song and shared his cancer experience. Rodgers began his story with a polite “I don’t mean to bring you down…” as he shared his story about his cancer diagnosis over five year ago. It was an aggressive form of prostate cancer with a very poor prognosis. His physician advised him to “get his affairs in order.” Rogers expressed that for him personally, getting his affairs in order meant writing, recording, and touring more than he’d ever done before, including the session with Daft Punk and Pharell Williams. Rodgers said “So after that series of wonderful phone calls, we wrote this song called “Get Lucky,” and I feel like the luckiest man in the world tonight because I’m here with you and five and half years later, I’m cancer free…and we’re STILL funky. So every song that we play in our set is a song that I’ve written, and produced, or whatever, with somebody else or another artist, every one of these songs that you hear is a song that I’ve done. We are not a covers band, this is all my music. However, however there is one little catch, when we play these songs we always play ’em CHIC style, because, we are an R&B, funk, disco, dance band, and that’s just what the Hell we do. We wanna make you move! So we put a little extra soul into everything we do. Kimberly…show ’em what we talkin’ about, girl…” And then Kim Davis softly croons the opening lines “Like the legend of the Phoenix…” Many in the crowd were likely misty eyed or shed a tear. It was a powerful moment and Kim Davis continued to soar higher and higher, taking the chorus up an octave, singing from the gut, outsinging Williams’ performance on record. And the rest of the band joined in and delivered a thumpin’ version complete with horns and a keyboard solo by Graham. THIS was the way the song was meant to be performed, full of heart, with a female vocalist that could sing the hell out of this tune, plus a drummer with a killer backbeat. The previous numbers were good, great even. But this was the WOW moment, the moment we realized we were witnessing greatness. The next WOW moment came when Rodgers introduced his drummer, Ralphe Rolle, and shared that he had the pleasure of working with David Bowie in the early 80s. To those who don’t know, Nile Rodgers produced Bowie’s Let’s Dance album and Tony Thompson performed much of the drum work on it. Bernard Edwards played bass on “Without You.” Rodgers shared that he walked into a bar (he was with Billy Idol), and they found Bowie sitting in a corner. They talked shop and eventually got together for the Let’s Dance sessions. Rodgers added that live, he normally gives the responsibility of singing the most difficult song to the new drummer. Rolle said hello to the audience and the group tore into a perfect rendition of “Let’s Dance,” with Rolle drumming and providing lead vocals, successfully channeling David Bowie’s baritone. He even did those 8th notes on the woodblock during the pre-verse sections. The horns added extra color and funk and the crowd stayed on it’s feet. Chic’s set just went into the stratosphere. And it didn’t stop there! After a blistering Bowie song, the group launched into the Chic standard, “Le Freak.” And I couldn’t help but think of that scene in Toy Story 3, where Ken is trying on outfits for Barbie..ahhhh FREAK OUT!. And then the holy sh*t/WOW moment came when the group slid into their final number, “Good Times.” Keep in mind that the rhythm track to “Good Times” is the foundation for Sugar Hill Gang’s hip-hop classic, “Rapper’s Delight.” That bass line is one of the greatest hooks ever. If you’re not familiar with the tune, think back to that scene in The Wedding Singer where the little old lady (Ellen Albertini Dow) is rapping with Robbie Hart’s backing band. THAT’s “Rapper’s Delight.” Chic performed a very funkilicious version of “Good Times” which led to a bass solo by Jerry Barnes and a call and response section by Rodgers i.e. ‘woo-oooh, woo-oooh, now everyone screeaam!!!’ And then the keys, guitar and vocals rested, leaving only Barnes to play that bass hook with Ralphe Rolle backing him up on drums. Rodgers said “Feeeeel that old school grooove!” The duo continued for a couple bars. I turned to my wife and said “Ok, someone needs to start rapping.” Two more measures later and Rodgers busts out with “I said a hip..hop, the hippie, the hippie, to the hip hip hop, you don’t stop a rock it” and the crowd went freaking nuts. I was joyfully cracking up, not really believing what I was seeing. Rodgers and the group continued for a good while, it was an awesome spin on “Rapper’s Delight,” and people joined in on the rhyming. Kim Davis even did the “saaay whaaaaat?”part. And then the group transitioned back into “Good Times,” with the keys, slinky guitar and female vocals pulling the song back together. Holy f*cking shit! And so ended Chic’s stellar set. The group received a standing ovation. They gave so many people so much joy this evening. My mom was a teen in the 70s and she loves this stuff. I thought to myself, “Wow, my mom’s music is pretty damn cool.”

  1. Everybody Dance
  2. Dance Dance Dance
  3. I Want Your Love
  4. I’m Coming Out/Upside Down/He’s the Greatest Dancer/We Are Family
  5. Get Lucky
  6. Let’s Dance
  7. Le Freak
  8. Good Times/Rapper’s Delight/Good Times reprise

It was great to finally witness Duran Duran live. They were freaking DURAN DURAN. Video pioneers, pop giants, fashion icons, etc. etc. And they at one time had one of the greatest guitar players in their lineup, Warren Cuccurullo. I was too young to experience the Duran Duran mania of the early and mid 80s. What sold me was The Wedding Album in the 90s, “Ordinary World” in particular. I had been wanting to see Double D since around 2000. I REALLY wanted to see them around 2005 when all 5 original members reunited. The classic lineup reunion was short-lived and a session guitarist, Dom Brown has filled in on subsequent albums and tours. Dom Brown isn’t a bad guitar player. But what’s missing is that bitchin’ Andy Taylor tone and his knack for executing his guitar parts with style and flair. Watch the Live in London DVD and you’ll hear what I mean. Personally, I would have begged Warren Cuccurullo to come back as the 5th member of the group. But no, we have Dom Brown, and I suppose 4 out of 5 original members ain’t bad. Fast forward to early July 2016, the band announced that founding member, Nick Rhodes, would be taking a temporary leave from the group’s touring schedule to attend to family matters. Nick’s fill-in keyboard player would be MNDR, a Mark Ronson collaborator and adventurous singer/songwriter/producer in her own right. Damn it. Now we were down to 3 original members. It could be worse, but for me, the gig had lost a bit of its luster. Now what made this gig and this tour great was the fact that Duran Duran were on the road in support of the very well received Paper Gods. Nile Rodgers himself had a hand in the production of the album. Red Hot Chili Pepper alumnus and melody master John Frusciante played some guitar on the album! The band brought it with this release, and the tour showed that they weren’t a nostalgia act living off past glories. Duran Duran was earning critical praise on every tour stop, proving they could construct a set that represented their new musical chapter while showcasing their storied history, without an over-reliance on classic material. It was the perfect combination of new and old, and the new stuff complemented the older tracks astonishingly well. The set itself was around 90 minutes in length, 18 songs or so, with 4 of the new tracks off Paper Gods included.

While DD is often remembered as a “keyboard group,” their secret weapon is their rhythm section. Bassist John Taylor and drummer Roger Taylor are the groove masters of the band. They are tasteful dance-rock/funk players with an excellent ear for hooks and signature parts. And then of course there’s the voice. Simon Lebon is a crooner in a league of his own, a golden, signature voice. Simon’s sweet spot is the range he uses for songs like “Wild Boys” and “Notorious,” it’s that silky tone with a bit of raspiness to it. The group was in good form, festive, and joyfully laid down their parts. It was a very good performance, but I unfairly compared it to their performance on the Live in London DVD, they were firing on all cylinders on that gig and I rather naively expected the same kind of fireworks at this show. I forget that they’re short 2 original members and that London gig took place a decade ago, yikes. It was still a very strong performance and we were thrilled. It was a potent set around 100 minutes long. The selfish, rabid fan in me always hopes for more, but this set time was just enough to introduce the audience to the new music while showering us with some classics without losing the fans with short attention spans. Of special note were the performances with Nile Rodgers on guitar. He came out to play on “Notorious” and “Pressure Off.” A tribute to David Bowie was included midset. The group inserted a section of “Space Oddity” into “Planet Earth,” making for a very cool and musically appropriate medley.  A snippit of “New Moon On Monday” was included in “Reach Up For the Sunrise.” Several key tracks from the group’s back catalogue were represented, including “A View To a Kill,” “The Reflex,” I Don’t Want Your Love,” “Wild Boys,”  “Girls On Film,” “Come Undone,” “Ordinary World,” and three tracks from the Rio album including the title track and “Hungry Like the Wolf.” The final song of the night was “Save a Prayer,” also off Rio. Before the group began “Save a Prayer,” Simon LeBon addressed the crowd and said “Now every week we hear these tragic horror stories, things that go on, I mean France has suffered very badly in the last year, what with the truck at the market in Nice, and the Bataclan in November….the Charlie Hebdo office terrorist attack, as well as the things happening in Germany…and never mind the awful stuff that’s happening in Syria and Iraq, innocent people being killed. And we are fed a lot of this stuff and it gets quite depressing at times, and it takes a lot of strength in yourself to hold onto your sense of optimism. Now I know that you guys are optimists and believe in good. I know that because the other kind of people don’t come to rock concerts, music is something that brings people together, it crosses the boundaries of race, sex, color, religion, money! Music is something which makes people feel better about themselves.” Simon dedicated their last number, “Save a Prayer,” to those who believe that good will win.  “Save a Prayer,” LeBon referenced Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” as the song drew to a close. I hate to admit it, but months later I’m still thinking about Chic’s set. They had completely won me over and I still fondly think back to their performance. DD wasn’t bad at all, but for some reason their set didn’t resonate with me like I’d hoped it would. Maybe it had to do with Nick Rhodes’ absence. The other lacking ingredient was John Taylor’s backing vocals. The group employed female backing singers for this tour and they took over most of the harmonies. Usually, it’s John that fills in on the harmonies but he took a break from this set, focusing on his bass playing. I missed that voice. It was still a wonderful night out and I’m thankful and grateful that we got to see two of the greatest pop-funk groups in the business. Later I found out the group performed “The Chauffeur” at the Las Vegas gig. Damn it.

 

Foo Fighters @ The Forum, Inglewood CA 10/14/11

Since It’s no longer possible to see Nirvana live, my buddy dbfield and I thought seeing The Foo Fighters might be the next best thing. Like Nirvana’s material, There’s an immediacy to the music of Foo Fighters that I still don’t fully understand. I don’t quite get it. I think it has more in common with punk music which I’ve never taken the time to appreciate. At my core, I’m a sucker for melody and musicianship, which isn’t to say that FF are not great musicians or don’t have an ear for good melodies.  They’re an important band with a wealth of strong material. The songs are muscular yet melodic, frantic at times but also frenetic. This particular gig was mostly an evening of blaring guitars (3 of them!) and unnerving, over the top shouting from Dave Grohl. Maybe it was the mix or the acoustics of The Forum, but damn it was a LOUD show, and not the good kind of loud. It was assaultive to the senses. So it wasn’t my fondest concert experience, but I still got to see one of the pillars of alternative rock, maybe even the flagship group of modern alt-rock.

Cage the Elephant was the primary opener for this gig, while Mariachi El Bronx provided more diverse offerings. I had little familiarity with CTE up to this point. “Shake Me Down” was being heavily rotated on AltNation and terrestrial modern rock radio. They even scored a guest spot on late night TV as well. Upon first listen, CTE wasn’t really my thing. Their sound was very raw, bluesy and loose. The vocals were nasally but with a rough, gravel like quality that suited their bluesy yet punkish music.  They reminded me of early Kings of Leon, but not so uptight and with a better sense of humor. Their set was merely “ok.” They couldn’t reproduce the fire of the studio originals. Something was lacking, and the set didn’t really take off until Dave Grohl stepped onto the state to fill in for their drummer, Jared Champion, who recently suffered a ruptured appendix. Singer Matthew Shultz stated that Dave would be filling in because their drummer “suffered an exploding appendix”, referring to their new group as “Cage the Foo Fighter.” It was at that point that the rest of the set took off, and I think Dave’s mighty delivery on skins helped to propel the group onstage. Now the bass drum truly thumped and the backbeat on the snare drum had greater presence and definition. There was  greater power behind each stroke that effectively cut through the buzz of Lincoln Parish’s guitar and Shultz’ abrasive vocals. It’s still cool to see a band like this tackling an arena, even though they weren’t necessarily my cup of tea. Songs performed tonight included “Shake me Down,” “No Rest For the Wicked,” “Aberdeen,” “Back Against the Wall,” and “Sabertooth Tiger.”

Foo Fighter’s set began to riotous applause. It’s quite a sight to see 17,000 people go crazy for a bunch of ordinary guys belting out songs about everyday life. Aside from the sound quality, there was still plenty to appreciate including the length of the show. The band gave their fans a generous helping of songs, clocking in at more than 2.5 hours. Dave Grohl is a surprisingly great frontman, an entertaining drummer and a frantic guitarist. Dave admitted that he approaches the guitar like he approaches the drums, rhythmic and percussive which was cool to me, I had never thought of the guitar in that way – and it truly defines the Foo Fighters’ guitar style. Dave was super talkative and had a great sense of humor onstage. What I found the most interesting was his personal experience jamming with Prince. Grohl said “Prince is a frickin genius and he’s probably the greatest musician I’ve ever met in my life.” I’m very glad I was able to afford this ticket/trip out to LA. Now if only Pearl Jam will tour soon.

1. Bridge Burning
2. Rope
3. The Pretender
4. My Hero
5. Learn to Fly
6. White Limo
7. Arlandria
8. Breakout
9. Cold Day in the Sun
10. Stacked Actors
11. Walk
12. Monkey Wrench
13. I Should Have Known
14. These Days
15. This is a Call
16. In the Flesh? (Pink Floyd cover)
17. All My Life
_________________________________
18. Long Road to Ruin (Acoustic)
19. Best of You (Acoustic)
20. Times Like These
21. Miss The Misery (with Fee Waybill)
22. Dear Rosemary
23. Breakdown (Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers cover)
24. Everlong

We got a rockin Pink Floyd cover, as well as an astonishingly faithful rendition of Tom Petty’s Breakdown. Fee Waybill of The Tubes also came out for a duet on Miss the Misery. Lots of surprises this night.

Worst moment: Ear rupturing volume.

Best moment: acoustic versions of Best of You and Times Like These that really got through to me. They were tender, the arena was super quiet and I couldn’t help but smile.

The band had so much fun this night. And it was cool to see Pat Smear onstage as well. I think my appreciation for FF is deepening, especially after hearing Wasting Light and seeing the Grammy win. Image

Prince @ The Save Mart Center, Fresno CA 05/18/11

Like someone else had written, there was only one way to describe the set that Prince performed for Fresno: ALL KILLER. NO FILLER. There were no obscure songs, deep cuts or new material, only one hit after another. And no chance for a breather as one classic Prince track after another flew by with intensity, power, and extreme funkiness. The band barely paused between songs, with almost every track segueing into another seamlessly. I’m not exactly a fan, but even a casual listener couldn’t help but feel the magic, the heat, the fun and the funk. I’m now a Prince convert

Prince and his backing band played for 100 minutes, a generous set by normal standards but short compared to the big city gigs like Los Angeles and New York City. Some of those shows were close to 3 hours long! Diehard fans might complain that Prince played an oldies show to throwback fans in Fresno, which wasn’t the case at all, but I prefer that kind of show because it was riveting and relentless. There was not a single lull or downer moment that night. And the man can still dance and sing like it was the Purple Rain tour and he’s in his 50s! The set was heavy with 80s material, even going back to early albums like Controversy, Purple Rain and 1999. There were also a few cover songs and even a couple of the collaboration songs like U Got the Look and Nasty Girl.

Prince’s band was unbelievably tight and explosively entertaining. I still can’t get over how easily one song gelled into another, especially the first 6 or 7 numbers. His backing vocalists were riveting and the rhythm section played tasty grooves. John Blackwell has been Prince’s drummer for a number of years and is a former member of Cameo. I had the pleasure of meeting him in 2004 at the NAMM convention and it was a treat to see how down to earth he is. He was polite, accommodating, and didn’t mind having a conversation with some guy from the Central Valley. Now if I can only figure out how he does those cool stick twirls…

MAIN SET:

1999
Little Red Corvette
The Beautiful Ones
Take Me With U
Rasberry Beret
Cream
Cool (The Time)
Let’s Work
U Got the Look
Make You Feel My Love (Bob Dylan)
Purple Rain
Let’s Go Crazy/Delirious

ENCORES:
I. Kiss

II. Sampler Medley:
When Doves Cry
Nasty Girl
Sign O’ The Times
Most Beautiful Girl in the World
Darling Nikki
I Would Die 4 U

III.
If I Was Your Girlfriend
Play that Funky Music (Wild Cherry)
Controversy/House Quake

I’m still in awe. Prince was incredible and I feel lucky to have seen one of the greats perform live. I have a new appreciation for him, I will never put him down or challenge him to a game of basketball

Greatest “wow” moment: the slow and sexy version of Little Red Corvette. It can melt you like butter.

a close-up of the video screen, 05/18/11

a view of the stage from our section