Prince has left the building. Or has he? A common question asked amongst the thousands of fans gathered at the ACC as Prince kicked off his eleven-city Welcome 2 Canada Tour, his first since 2004’s Musicology Tour. After nearly three hours of performing, including seven encores, the show finally came to an end and everyone wanted more.
The stage was located in the centre of the venue aptly shaped like his male/female symbol, and large vertical screens hanging high up made it impossible to miss a beat. The show started with Prince rising from the centre of the stage, outfitted in a black shirt and black bell bottom pants, sporting a sequin bracelet, shades and a very dramatic necklace. Right off the bat, he brought the funk. Moving all over the stage, dancing up a storm and captivating the entire audience despite his short stature. All the music was live, provided by back up singers, a drummer and bassist, all female; as well as Maceo Parker on the saxophone. About half an hour in, he graced us all with his incredible guitar playing skills.
He played newer tracks like “Musicology”, along with all the classics including “Kiss”, “Raspberry Beret”, “When Doves Cry”, “1999” and of course “Purple Rain” during which purple confetti came pouring down. He also beautifully covered Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ’til You Get Enough”, Bob Dylan’s “Make You Feel my Love” and Wild Cherry’s classic “Play that Funky Music”. Whether he was singing, dancing, playing guitar and playing piano, or singing, dancing and playing guitar on the piano, he made it look easy.
The only minor criticism to offer is though the stage, the lights, the effects and overall production were grand, they were underwhelming. One would have expected more glamour, more spectacle, more eccentricity from an artist such as Prince. The overuse of the fog machines was distracting, there were no back up dancers, and it took him an hour and a half for his first costume change and only changed once more after that: a white cut-off collared shirt, pants where one leg was white, one was black and gold sequin shoes. Have to admit, that was worth the wait.
More than once he invited a group of lucky audience members to dance on stage. During one of these parties, in a flurry of excitement a man dropped down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend. She said yes, while Prince continued to perform and they continued to dance. Prince is an artist, an entertainer and had the crowd on their feet from beginning to end: he brought funk, he brought soul and he brought heart. No wonder he’s royalty.