I have seen some amazing artists in concert over my 20+ years of attending live shows.
In genres spanning pop, rock, R&B, hip hop, funk, jazz, and all points in between, I still have ticket stubs from concerts by some of the best artists in their field, including Roy Ayers, Erykah Badu, Big Freedia, Chromeo, DJ Spinna, Gary Clark Jr., Fantasia, FKJ, Ice Cube, India. Arie, Jamie Lidell, Ledisi, Lenny Kravitz, Little Dragon, Damian Marley, Mayer Hawthorne, Maze featuring Frankie Beverly, Mint Condition, Mos Def, Meshell Ndegeocello, Onra, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Emelie Sandé, Jill Scott, Alice Smith, Snake Hips, Allen Stone, Robin Thicke, TLC, Toshi Reagon, and many more.
Something about live music that brings out the best in most artists. Perhaps it’s the connection to their art, the energy of a room, and love from fans that make up the equation. Whatever the case may be, one artist who gave his all in every performance was the artist known as Prince Rogers Nelson. Or simply, Prince.
Today, June 7th, 2020 would have been his 62nd birthday.
If you ever had the opportunity to catch Prince live, you know, he had to be among the best performers, if not one of the 100 greatest; not just because I’m a super-fan, but based off of his pure musical genius and talent. He also had an innate ability to put other artists in the spotlight. (Think: Snoh Aalegra, Sheila E., Vanity, Morris Day and the Time, Mint Condition, to name a few).
Madison Square Garden
R&B band and Minneapolis/St. Paul natives Mint Condition, singer Janelle Monáe, and American Ballet Theatre’s principal ballet dancer Misty Copeland, all performed during the singer's "Welcome 2 America" tour, at Madison Square Garden, on December 29, 2010 in New York City.
Prince always had a way of keeping you on your feet, even during his ballads. He performed most of his hit songs along with new material and other cover songs.
That night, he played for nearly 4 hours with 3 encore performances. A DJ friend and I attended together and had a blast!
My First Time
I attended my first Prince concert in Phoenix, Arizona, on April 28th, 1997, during his “Love 4 One Another Charities” tour, when he was then known as The Artist.
If I remember correctly, at that time, it was not my intention to drive alone to Phoenix. I was a 21-year old Airman or Airman First Class in the Air Force, stationed at my first duty station; Davis Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, a two-hour drive away.
I think I asked a friend to go and she bailed when it was time to buy tickets. So, I bought my ticket, gassed up my car and took my first solo road trip.
Performing songs from 1996’s Emancipation LP and other tunes from previous records, Prince covered “Jam of the Year,” and “Get Yo Groove On,” as well as “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” “Sexy M.F.,” “How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore,” and “Take Me With You,” among others. And from that moment on, I was sold that he was one of the greatest performers alive. So anytime I'd find out he was coming to town or to a city nearby, I was on it!
The Second Time Around
As luck would have it, the singer's "Hit N Run" tour came through Houston at Hofheinz Pavilion, on November 30th, 2000. My mom actually bought tickets for the both of us, as I came home on leave for Thanksgiving, from my second duty station, Kadena Air Base, in Okinawa, Japan.
It was her first time seeing him live, my second, obviously. For hours, we danced, sang, and rocked out to an array of hits from “Uptown,” “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “When Doves Cry” to “Purple Rain,” “Kiss” and “Housequake.” My mom was mesmerized and I was happy we could experience the genius of Prince together.
Dallas Dance Party
Nearly four years later, on April 2nd, 2004, Prince arrived in Dallas for his “Musicology” tour at American Airlines Center. This time, it was a straight-up dance party.
The setlist included “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Baby I’m a Star,” “D.M.S.R.,” “Let’s Work,” “I Feel for You," as well as “A Love Bizarre,” “Glamorous Life” and “U Got the Look“ among others. And once again, it was mom and I rocking it out to one of the greatest musicians to ever do it.