December 20th, 2010 10:16am
The Dream We All Dream Of
Prince @ Madison Square Garden 12/18/2010
Welcome 2 America / Dance (Disco Heat) / Baby, I’m A Star / The Beautiful Ones / Let’s Go Crazy / Delirious / Let’s Go Crazy (reprise) / 1999 / Shhh / Uptown / Raspberry Beret / Cream / Cool / Let’s Work / U Got the Look (with Sheila E) / The Glamorous Life (with Sheila E) / Nothing Compares 2 U / Purple Rain // Kiss /// A Love Bizarre (with Sheila E and a cavalcade of dancing celebrities.)
This was my first time seeing Prince in concert, and the show was as close to a best case scenario as I could have hoped for. As you can see, it was a two hour hit parade focused on material from 1980 through 1987, the period when he was an untouchable pop genius. His creative peak may be behind him, but he remains an absolutely brilliant performer. He has a high level of energy, craft, and pure showmanship, but beyond that, he is possessed of a superhuman charisma that is captivating even from up in the cheap seats. A lot of the time I was just standing there in awe of his presence, and the seeming effortlessness of his performance. The moment that stands out in my memory is so simple, but so iconic — I remember looking up at the big screen, in tight close up on his face as he did one of his famous impish smirks. I feel like this experience was mostly about simply bearing witness to Prince, and that was like the pinnacle of Prince-ness.
Prince played my all-time favorite Prince song at this show, and so let’s talk about that one.
“U Got the Look” is, for me, the platonic ideal of a Prince song. It’s blends elements from funk, new wave, and rock so seamlessly that it stands apart from other genres, it’s really just Prince music. Every sound in the track is vibrant and crackling with energy, like a transmission from some better, sexier world. It’s an extremely playful song, full of charming lyrics that set the highest standard for flirtation in the context of a pop song, or quite possibly the context of anything at all. It’s an ideal balance of flattery, sweetness, humor, and overt sexuality. You get silly voices, you get sexually charged vocal interaction, you get the ridiculous, wonderful concept of the World Series of Love. My favorite part is probably when he catches himself in a contradiction and offers a retraction: “My face is red, I stand corrected!” Everything about the song is fun. It’s inspiring that way. It makes you want to shed all insecurity and be as confident and funny and smooth as Prince. It makes you realize that it really can be as simple as “if love is good, then let’s get 2 rammin’.” Truly, this song is the dream we all dream of.
Buy it from Amazon.