Kevin Mazur, WireImage The Boot rounds up today's country music news from…
- Posted on Dec 16th 2010 11:30AM by Kenneth Partridge
Tim Mosenfelder, Getty Images
The answer, luckily, was no. The security staff made only a cursory attempt to enforce this unenforceable rule, and midway through the set, during a show-stopping version of 'If I Was Your Girlfriend,' Prince himself urged fans to take out the supposedly banned devices and wave them in the air, proving he's not as out of touch with the realities of modern life as some might have feared.
As it turns out, Prince is still in touch with a lot of things, the most important of which being his prodigious talents: the James Brown dancing, shrug-of-the-shoulder guitar shredding and Little Richard shrieking. He opened the show -- the first of this winter's five New York and New Jersey appearances -- in a manner befitting his legend, rising slowly from a trap door in the center of a stage shaped like the unpronounceable symbol he once used as his name. Shrouded in smoke, dressed in a long purple overcoat, he laid down a fierce 'Laydown,' giving his Telecaster one of many workouts it would receive over the course of his 23-song set.
Then, just as quickly as he'd appeared, he returned to his subterranean lair, leaving the next tune, a new one called 'Black Muse,' to his three female background singers. These ladies are first-class belters, and in their space-age dominatrix outfits, they looked like the sort of people that should be hanging out with Prince, but it was a huge relief with the man himself resurfaced for the next run of songs.
"We're taking it old school," he said, leading his surprisingly minimal band -- just drums, two keyboards, and a bass -- through a medley of 'Uptown,' 'Raspberry Beret' and 'Cream.' Two songs later, as he played the guitar lick that begins 'U Got the Look,' cannons sprayed the crowd with blasts of purple confetti.
Not every song was worthy of such fanfare. During another of Prince's prolonged absences, the ladies took on Sarah McLachlan's 'Angel,' raising the question of taste that has dogged Prince in recent years. Then there were his duets with opener Lalah Hathaway on 'Sometimes It Snows in April' and 'Diamonds and Pearls.' Both rank among Prince's prettiest songs, but positioned at the start of the second encore, after he'd just finished doing 'Kiss,' they had the Izod's strange assemblage of fans -- everyone from back-in-the-day diehards to Jersey moms and skinny-jeaned indie rockers -- stifling yawns.
Maybe he was saving himself for the big finish. After jamming out on 'All the Critics Love U in New York' -- a song whose title was gospel in 1982 but is now wishful thinking, if not an ironic joke -- he closed with the underappreciated 1981 synth-funk banger 'Controversy.' Prince used the song as a launching pad, first for an extended dance solo -- which, with its crotch grabbing and spinning, called to mind his old rival Michael Jackson -- and then brief excursions into Chic's dance classic 'Le Freak' and his own 'Housequake.'
It was at this point he opened the stage to premium ticketholders, all of whom had the misfortune of showcasing their dance skills alongside Prince's. "How many people know about the quake?' he asked, the switched-on houselights revealing the answer: not enough to fill the Izod Center on a frigid night less than two weeks before Christmas, but more than enough to justify the effort.