Monday, February 05, 2007

Traditionally, when temperatures limbo under the 70 degree dash as they did last week, Floridians embrace their inner New Yorkers: halter tops are exchanged for plush, mushy cashmere sweaters and leather jackets, and flip flops become pointy-toed ankle boots. But last week there was nothing frigid about the wardrobes on the peninsula, in fact – it seems that everyone wore an inner layer of provocative instead of the more sensible silk-knit long johns. What gives? Clearly, everyone was feeling the convection heat of the hottest pop star to ever don purple velvet: Prince.
The foreplay began last Wednesday night when he played to a crowd of 5,000 at Hard Rock Live. “Is that a smoke machine?” Asked the woman sitting next to us as a hazy, dense, cloud rose up from under the stage engulfing the brass band that was playing Prince’s introductory song: a bleating, swinging medley of traditional barbershop harmonies, like “Old Grey Mare” and “Down by the Riverside”. Before long, the band and their black spy suits were veiled under the growing, swirling smoke screen. But we all knew the haze wasn’t caused by special effects; it was Prince’s purple pheromones dissipating into the theater. He was here.
“I’m going to do my best to make sure you are all satisfied tonight”, he flirted to the crowd. A promise he genuinely tried his best to keep, but spoiled slightly by filling the first half-hour with the less satisfying music from 3121 – a scandalless album recorded at Prince’s height of new-found divinity. The girl behind us was unhappy; “God, would everyone, just SIT DOWN!” The whining was probably a result of the world’s most deadly combination: having paid hundreds of dollars expecting the entire Purple Rain catalog (and beginning to realize that you might not hear any of it) and wearing monstrously treacherous stilettos to a narrow stadium environment. After the awkward half-hour of foreplay, Prince began gyrating to “Don’t Have to be Rich” and instantly the audience was electrified. His yellow suit tapered at the knee, so his kicks, swivels, and muscular hiccups looked as though they were being achieved independently of his body. Rapper Mickey Freed’s backup dancer jumped on stage during an extended rhythm break down and began throwin’ the “dance mac” on Prince’s back-up dynamos – a pair of sisters with looks similar to Beyoncé, the energy of a wheatgrass waterfall, and the uncanny ability to perform gymnastics in ten-story heels. But it was just that kind of party.
A dozen hits and two encores later, the salacious purple diva kissed the audience farewell. And while most of the ingredients had been present for us to be “satisfied”, there was a sense that we didn’t have his undivided attention during the romp. Maybe it’s because we were a one-night stand compared to the security of a long-term commitment (world tour), but there was certainly the feeling that he was forced upon us like an arranged marriage. The music was excellent; his guitar dexterity, superb; his dancing, seductive – but we were missing that spark that makes love grand. This was only further confirmed when Prince dodged his own after party next door. It was the musician’s equivalent of “uh, I’ll call you?” We’re still waiting by the phone.

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