"Coachella! I'm gonna start things off here with something from the third disc of Crystal Ball !" "Who wants to hear The Rainbow Children in its entirety?" "Ladies and gentlemen, Appolonia!"
Prince said a whole bunch of shit during his headlining set on Saturday night, but fortunately none of the above was included. Granted, that's what one should expect when the guy on stage is getting forked over a rumored $4.8 million. But compared to artists like, say, Death Cab and Jack Johnson, this is an upgrade from David Eckstein to Alex Rodriguez; your headliners can't fall back on shit like grittiness or hustle-- they should be able to knock it out of the park.
To call this a concert would be selling it short. Cavalcade? Extravaganza? Well, that's more like it, and from the jump, it was evident that we weren't just going to hear The Hits, Vol. 1 on shuffle. As a matter of fact, it took nearly a half hour just to hear some original Prince material. Not that anyone was complaining when Morris Day kicked off the set off with two Time numbers before Sheila E. gave us "The Glamorous Life".
Between the stratospheric expectations and the obvious financial obligation, Prince was sparing no tricks, even if he was up against an obvious problem: We'd been our feet for the past 12 hours in 100-degree weather listening to live music. God bless him for keeping shit interesting even as fatigued concertgoers were begrudgingly making their way out. Prince raps have always been dicey going, but he had no trouble spicing up "Musicology" with timely music-biz crit and you have to love the decision to pull out early-90s chestnuts like "7" and "Cream", while dedicating the latter to himself (sadly, he did not do "My Name Is Prince" nor have Kirstie Alley narrate the thing).
But through no fault of his own, it might have been too overwhelming. After understandably taking the stage about a half hour later than expected, and running through 15 of the weekend's most impressive guitar solos, 12:30 in the morning may not have been the opportune time to have a backup singer cover Sarah McLachlan's "Angel", before turning an extended version of "Come Together" into an anti-war screed. Mind you, this was before he did "Purple Rain", which might still be going on to this moment. But all of that is merely bitchery when you consider that we'll likely never see his likes again; the only thing keeping my aching feet off my mind was the comfort in knowing that I was among the ten of thousands of luckiest music fans in America.
And, oh, you may have heard, but he played "Creep". During one of the many interludes Prince took between particularly lengthy workouts, there was an arpeggiated chord progression that sounded familiar, but just a bit…off. But all of a sudden, "When you were here before…" You looked at the person to your right in confusion. "Couldn't look you in the eye." And then to the left as you were starting to realize what the fuck was happening. --Ian Cohen