Patience is virtue and you’ll be handsomely rewarded at a Prince show. My husband and I originally wanted to see Prince at one of his small shows at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland. We tried to no avail secure tickets. I even looked on the Ticketmaster app the night of show and saw one pair left but at $500 a pop, but as a newly married couple, budget was a concern. Thankfully, Prince announced another show at the Oracle and I became best friends with the Ticketmaster app again. For a few days after the tickets went on sale the only tickets showing were the most expensive $500+. (Insert sad face) So I kept trying the app each day up to the show and finally by Wednesday night we saw a pair in our price range and we snagged them. The seats were right in the middle of the arena about one section up so we had a great view of the stage and screens. This was a theater in the round type show and for Prince a very different show with just him a piano and mic. Not only did my husband and I witness a incredible show we came home with some valuable lessons.
One man, one mic, one piano can be as powerful as a full band.
Personally I’m all about acoustic and unplugged concerts. I would gladly choose a stripped down performance over a full band. To the artist’s credit, Prince is absolute piano beast! I could totally picture him in the Blue Note in New York or Yoshi’s here in the Bay Area. I felt during the show that I might have been in a small jazz club or perhaps Prince’s home (since he was wearing purple pj’s). I think most people forget how huge and diverse his catalog is. He’s been a active artist since the late 70’s! I find I hear his catalog mostly on Adult Contemporary Radio now (you know, the stations that turn into 24 hour Christmas fest from Thanksgiving on) and I think we all forget how revolutionary his music is. His set list jumped erratically from “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” to to the politically charged “Baltimore” with ease and not missing a beat. I have read online that Prince wanted to challenge himself with these “unplugged” style shows. I cannot imagine the pressure of covering his expansive catalog and instrumentation with just a piano. He really made it looks so easy and effortless.
A crappy venue experience can be forgotten
Upon entering the venue we had to go through a long line of security and metal detectors which took awhile. It felt like there was not enough staff to get everyone through quickly. Then once we were inside we could not go to our seats. The tickets and all communication lead us to believe that the show started promptly at 9pm. As the time crept closer we all got a little impatient and the venue’s heat was turned on and felt like a sauna and as more people trickled in it got very crowded. I heard from my friends outside that security stopped letting people go in the Oracle. Honestly, I would have traded places with them. I broke down and bought a $6 water because I was getting so hot. We learned later that there were sound issues and Prince did not want anyone inside until they were resolved. Once we did sit down and the music started I think we all forgot for the duration of the show about the difficulty at the door.
Prince fans let it all out but are polite
True story, my husband and I sat behind two lovely hard core Prince gal fans. They were decked out in vintage circa 1986 Purple Rain t-shirts. Since the show was at Oracle we all had seats with not too much room between rows. These gals were so pumped about the show that they simply just wanted to get up and dance. Rather than just standing in the row blocking my view, they would crouch and move into the entrance when they wanted to rock out. It struck me how kind this was and was much appreciated.
You can enjoy a concert without a phone
Most shows these days everyone is one their phone. Whether they are texting, tweeting, snapping, sometimes people’s screens gets in the way of the show. This does not happen at Prince’s concerts. As soon as we sat down a huge screen read NO PHONES NO CAMERAS. Even before the show security was warning us to keep them in our bags. While I saw plenty of pictures on Instagram after the show security was hard pressed to keep the picture taking at a minimum. In all honestly if you don’t have to worry about the perfect picture you can just enjoy the show, simple as that.
The audience has to put as much energy in Prince, otherwise it’s over
Countless times Prince invited the crowd to sing with him especially when he got up and went “piano-less” with “When Doves Cry” powered by a drum machine. We quickly learned if we did not sing with the same passion and intensity Prince approved of he would stop the song and make us start over.
The ultimate lesson is that if you have a opportunity to see a Prince with just a piano, do it!