Sunday, June 30, 2013

Prince Wows Sold-Out Crowd During Late-Night Show At City Winery


Growing up watching Prince in "Purple Rain," I had always wondered what it would be like to see him perform in an intimate space. What's funny is that I was actually in his hometown of Minneapolis last Thursday and thought about what it would be like to see him onstage at First Avenue—the dance club/music venue made famous in the film.

So, I finally got my chance early Sunday—along with about 300 rabid Prince fans—when he performed at City Winery. After-hours shows of this caliber typically take place in Los Angeles and New York, so those lucky enough to get tickets were most certainly in for something special.

The mega star was in town as the entertainment for the George Lucas/Mellody Hopson wedding reception, which took place at Promontory Point in Hyde Park. Doors for his City Winery show were scheduled to open at 11:30pm, but ticket buyers weren't allowed in until almost 2am.

No doubt people were visibly upset, but all that anger immediately subsided when the petite performer suddenly jumped onstage at 2:06am in a neatly stacked Afro and glistening purple suit. Backing him was a 22-piece band, which included members of the New Power Generation and 3rdeyegirl.

The show was funky and soulful and old school, with Prince paying homage to classic songs he's written for other artists (Morris Day & The Time; Sheila E.) as well as those that put him on the map. I was actually surprised to see him perform so many commercial hits, but they went over well with the crowd. From "The Bird" to "1999" to "Glamorous Life," he rocked out that tiny stage and got full audience participation.

There were little moments that sent the crowd in a frenzy. For example, he'd take off his shades for a second to scan the room. And they went nuts. There was also the impromptu "dance off" between band members during the first encore performance. Yes, the first encore. There were at least two during the two-hour performance.

What most attendees didn't know is that much of the performance was identical to what the Lucas wedding reception guests saw (some guests who also attended the concert told me that info). In other words, everyone got their money's worth.

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