As a result of a general awareness of his live pedigree as the consummate musician/showman, I knew going in that checking expectations at the door was a key pre-requisite to full enjoyment of my first PRINCE show during my first trip to Las Vegas. Expectations leading up were very high. These expectations were obliterated.
Signs informing fans to keep their phones off and in their pocket were EVERYWHERE both outside and inside the 4,000 capacity Joint, making for a more engaged and focused show-watching experience (anonymous person on the floor shared the grainy shots you can see dotting this post). From our excellent vantage point from the middle balcony across the square and acoustically sound room, we had an eagle-eyed view of what would be one of the better audiovisual live music experiences in some time.
With a strobe-filled and sometimes jarring visual aesthetic (with loads of shadows / silhouetted back lighting being fused in to make PRINCE & 3rdEyeGirl appear larger-than-life), PRINCE and his stellar all-girl band began tearing through a razor-sharp rock set, heavy on high-octane guitar fireworks by both PRINCE and Donna Grant and a barrage of smoltering, prog-heavy runs.
With the quip “Do you like rock and roll,” a quick affirmative roar and the artist’s response “I do too, but I like mine funky…” the soulful show man was able to hint at the simple and straightforward themes of the set. It was rockin’, it was funky and it was LOUD.
— LIVE music blog (@livemusicblog) April 28, 2013
The more casual fans were thrown a few bones, and there aren’t too many out there who can’t get down on some of the bigger hits like the aforementioned “Let’s Go Crazy,” the heavily-reprised and notably extended version of “Purple Rain,” and the hit I had to see: “When Doves Cry”. After a half-hour or so of doing his thing, PRINCE remarked at his own unrepentant badass-ness, saying “I’m scared of my own self” before queueing up a bawdy rendition of “Screwdriver,” the tune the band played a few weeks prior on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Prince’s way with the audience certainly tapped into the everyone’s-a-VIP general aesthetic of Vegas, and the Purple One wasn’t hesitant to feed the crowd’s general ego with comments about playing all night, loving the energy and shouting out rallying cries like “ain’t nothing like a purple party because a purple party don’t stop.”
After about a roughly 90-minute set, the curtain closed with a bang before the otherworldly and extended “Sampler Set” encore. Prince and Co. weren’t done scorching retinas and easily saved the biggest treats musically for the final minutes – sending everyone out on an extremely high note (and wishing tickets to the late show were in possession).
“A Love Bizarre” came soon thereafter and at this point, there are a ton of dancers up on stage of varying talent levels and The Joint was basically quaking at this time – befitting that a monster version of “Housequake” (also from Sign “☮” the Times) beamed in next with Hannah Welton completely wailing away back on drumkit riser, loving every minute of the Vegas spotlight. Alas, a cover of the unexpected and perfectly ridiculous “Play That Funky Music” helped close out a remarkable show that will remain perma-sketched into my mind for the rest of my days.
PRINCE and his uber-talented backing power trio of females laid down a thick slab of the best and easily most unique live electro-funk I’ve ever heard during the encore. Additionally, all the Vegas shout outs and fan love for the early showgoers was a nice, personalized kicker. After PRINCE, everything involved in the trip was pure gravy and added incentive to make a planned return back in July for another run at The Joint.
SETLIST: PRINCE @ The Joint, Las Vegas, Nevada | SATURDAY, APRIL 27th, 2013 @ 8pm (EARLY SHOW)
Let’s Go Crazy (w/ Frankenstein Jam)
U Got The Look
Shes Always In My Hair
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
I Like It There
When We’re Dancing Close & Slow
Purple Rain >
Purple Rain (Reprise)
ENCORE “Sampler Set”
Sign O’ The Times
When Doves Cry
The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (clip)
A Love Bizzare
17 Days (clip)
I Would Die 4 U