Wednesday night brought the purple one himself, Prince, to the RBC Center in Raleigh for a show only announced two weeks earlier.
He came out with a bit of an awkward start, singing along to pre-recorded bits of "When Doves Cry" and a series of other songs before his band launched into the first proper song of the evening, "If I Was Your Girlfriend."
From note one, he commanded the stage, showcasing some impressive dance moves, especially considering he was wearing large red heels. He strutted about and repeatedly commanded the crowd to clap, sway, dance and the like, and the crowd obliged.
I don't know if it was the simply that I haven't seen an arena show in a number of years, but the mix sounded muddy all night, leaving Prince's vocals unintelligible a lot of the time and the band, though quite tight and incredibly skilled, sounded awash and indistinct, thought the low end always sounded tight.
With that said, most of the show was incredibly entertaining. A cover of Morris Day and The Time's song "Cool" rolled into a groovy, long funky jam. One of the highlights of the evening was Prince's duet with Chaka Khan on the Rufus song "Sweet Thing." Prince let her sing most of it and simply smiled and wailed away on his Telecaster.
Unlike the dance contest portion of other Prince shows, about 25 people were invited on stage to dance during and super long extended version of Wild Cherry's hit song "Play That Funky Music." Prince hand picked one especially exuberant woman to come on stage near the end of the song, who will surely be telling that story for years to come.
After a long wait, the hits finally started rolling out, with "Let's Go Crazy," "1999," "Little Red Corvette" and a excellent version of "Purple Rain" coming one after another.
Prince returned for a single-song encore of the hit "Kiss" before the show came to an awkward end and the house lights came up. People filed out of the venue, but those who took their time leaving were treated to an extra tune. About 20 minutes after the show ended, the band returned and a couple thousand people were treated to a second encore of "D.S.M.R." with Prince getting the remaining crowd amped up again. It may have been the best part of the evening considering most of the venue's seats were empty an the remaining crowd gathered around the stage.
With whatever problems the show may have had and many big hit songs being left out, Prince is a hell of a showman and no one can deny that.
Chaka Khan opened the show with a short but sweet five-song set packed with hits including "I Feel For You," "Tell Me Something Good" and "I'm Every Woman." She rocked it even though the sound for her set was weaker than Prince's, leaving her powerful vocals lost in the mix.
Prince set list (this is incomplete, but very close)
Medley (w/ When Doves Cry, Sign 'O' the Times & more)
If I Was Your Girlfriend
Cool (Morris Day & The Time cover)
U Got the Look
Angel (Sarah McLachlan cover)
Sweet Thing (w/ Chaka Khan)
Controversy (w/ a little Love Rollercoaster)
Play That Funky Music (Wild Cherry cover)
Let's Go Crazy
Little Red Corvette
Chaka Khan set list
I Feel For You
You Got the Love
Tell Me Something Good
I'm Every Woman