The Wiener heat
Summer had hit Vienna hard this weekend and the heat was getting to me. I am certainly not a man built for high temperatures and I suffered a lot and it may have affected my experience and made me even grumpier than I usually am at this my 28th Prince gig since 1987.
The sun was shining and it was 30 degrees Celsius outside and only the almighty Jehovah knows how insanely hot it was inside the venue. The sweat was pouring down our bodies for those 3.5 uncomfortable hours standing near the stage in the Golden Circle pit area, but our view from 10th row or so was excellent. The crowd was not exactly young, but they were a good lively bunch of people.
Setlist and songs
The concert kick-off was delayed by nearly 1 hour but the show still ran for 2.5 hours and there was time enough for many songs. Wiener Stadthalle is a big venue (maybe a crowd of 8000 or 9000 people?) The sound was not über excellent, but most of the time it sounded mighty fine where we were standing.
Unfortunately the setlist could have been improved upon a lot. The first hour or so was mainly all hits and also included a medley with Prince behind the piano. I guess some casual Prince fans still want to hear mostly hits but us die-hards like to be challenged a bit more. The setlist improved later in the show though, and we got some newer songs and some songs being played less often.
"Empty Room" was really nice and I think Donna played a great guitar on that one. "Purple Rain" was amazing and we got a very extended version obviously ending with everyone bathing in the massive purple confetti rain. Enjoying the sound of Prince's guitar on "Purple Rain" live is just one of those things you'll never want to end. Listening to "Sometimes It Snows in April" was a bit surreal in the overheated sauna venue where falling snow certainly would have been a welcome surprise but not exactly very realistic. The guitar heavy "Bambi" is always welcome on the setlist and "What's My Name?" was a first time live experience for me and a nice way to end the show.
When the concert finished, I think we'd had at least 6 encores! All consisting of 1 or 2 songs. It destroyed any flow whatsoever and was very annoying to witness. Somebody should really tell the man to stop doing that, but at least he didn't invite anyone from the crowd to dance on stage and that would have been even worse.
Happy Birthday, Dear Prince
The crowd sang a long rendition of "Happy Birthday To You" during one of the encore breaks and Prince smiled and thanked for all the love shown on his 56th birthday. Being the weirdo freak he is, he doesn't celebrate birthdays though, and he explained that he doesn't celebrate growing older, but is trying to become younger. He certainly still moves around with incredible ease like if he's almost floating around above the stage floor doing his dance moves. If you get close enough though, then his face does show that he is not 25 years old anymore, but he definitely doesn't look like he is anywhere near 56 years old either.
Prince was being backed by his all girl band 3rdEyeGirl, consisting of Ida Nielsen on bass, Donna Grantis on guitar and Hannah Ford on the drums. For this gig it also featured Cassandra O'Neal on keyboards. Prince was of course playing whatever and like always switching between guitar, keyboards and bass during the show. While Prince's guitar playing was certainly as impressive as ever also especially his voice stood out. Many singers start losing some of the ability to sing quite as well as they did in their younger days, but I think Prince sings even better now than ever before. Something you really notice when he sits by his piano and sings a ballad or two.
Ida Nielsen is pure funky perfection on the bass and she is holding the shit together. Prince and Ida really work together as a unit and you can see how she enjoys herself up there. Donna is in a 110% maximum power-mode all of the time and she should ease down a bit with the heavy-guitarist attitude and learn to chill a bit more. It's okay to show some attitude but sometimes less is more. Hannah is perhaps not the very best drummer in the world, but she certainly works hard for it and she gets the job done. I really like what Prince did, putting together this girl band because it is so full of fresh raw energy and not so soft and sugar coated like his NPG band had become with all the massive horn backing.
But what is going on with that new 3rdEyeGirl album? They really should get moving and get it out there. Prince's album output rate has become way too slow these days.
Prince has a no photo and video policy. 10 minutes before the show begins, his band walks to the front of the stage and Hannah does a little speech about how photos are baaaad and live is gooood. It's not that a few people can't be incredibly annoying holding their phones high above their head for most of a gig. But that doesn't make the rest of the crowd criminal for wanting to shoot a few pictures to take home and remember the gig by. Prince has a massive security crowd who spend the entire gig looking for, harassing, kicking people out of the venue and annoyingly blinding people with flashlights and powerful spotlights. It actually destroyed several songs for me and removed a lot of my focus from the stage.
How can you really enjoy a beautiful "Sometimes It Snows In April" or a great "Little Red Corvette" when you are being constantly blinded by a fucktard with a flashlight thinking he spotted a camera in the neighborhood or somewhere high above on the balconies? Or even worse, some huge asshole security nigga chasing a "nasty photo criminal" around on the floor with a flashlight and kicking her out of the venue after he finds her? Prince is fighting a war he can never win and he destroys his own shows fighting it. He is really being a big cunt here and somebody should tell him to fucking back off and focus on his excellent guitar playing and singing instead. People don't pay a whopping 149 Euros to see a concert, just to have their experience partly destroyed by Prince's own retarded security people.
"My name is Prince and so is yours"
I will judge a Prince gig much harder than I would most other bands, because I have seen him so many times and I know what he is capable of when he really wants to. Only last year I saw a much better gig than this one. Given the ticket prices, the behavior of the security cunts and the rather uninspired setlist, I just don't think this was one of those magical concerts I will look back at with a smile on my face, years from now.
Surely it had it's highlights and being this close to the stage where Prince and his band perform is always a great experience. Prince is simply in his own league but on this day he just didn't beat himself. You can't however win every time and I'm sure next time will be so much better. And remember even if it certainly wasn't a perfect experience, it was still way better than many other artists can ever dream of.
Let's Go Crazy, Take Me With U, Raspberry Beret, U Got the Look, Cool (The Time cover), When Doves Cry, Sign "o" the Times, Hot Thing, Nasty Girl (Vanity 6 cover), Alphabet Street, Forever in My Life, Controversy, Love Rollercoaster (Ohio Players cover), 1999, Little Red Corvette / Slow Down, Nothing Compares 2 U (The Family cover), Kiss, Diamonds and Pearls, The Beautiful Ones, Empty Room, Guitar, Plectrum Electrum, Crimson & Clover (Tommy James & the Shondells cover), She's Always in My Hair, Purple Rain, Play That Funky Music (Wild Cherry cover), Screwdriver, Funknroll, Housequake, Sometimes It Snows in April, Bambi, Stratus (Billy Cobham cover), What's My Name?