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December 20, 2011 at 1:20pm

LIVE REVIEW: Prince at the Tacoma Dome

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His name is Prince, and he's still funky.

Sure, His Purpleness has a bionic hip these days. (Hey, you try doing splits in high heels for three decades.) But the spritely, 53-year-old rocker still looked svelte, suave and more like 35 Monday night as he and his backing band, the New Power Generation, wound down their yearlong Welcome 2 tour at the Tacoma Dome.

It was the Royal Rocker's first local stop since a two-night stand in Seattle in 2004. Boa and lace-clad Gen-Xers thought it was worth the wait as they, and some of their kids, grooved to some of the most iconic pop of the Reagan Era. And the nostalgic dance party got started with a cut that helped make Prince a household name back in 1984.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today, to get to this thing called life," went the dramatic, organ-drenched intro to "Let's Go Crazy," one of five cuts that made an appearance from Prince's watershed soundtrack, Purple Rain.

The theater-in-the-round configuration was a major plus. A stage, shaped like that unpronounceable glyph that used to be Prince's stage name, took up a healthy chunk of the arena floor, ensuring there wasn't a bad seat as Prince ran through the hits.

The latest incarnation of the NPG includes four backup singers - notably Shelby J, who joined Prince for a powerful duet on "Nothing Compares 2 U" - and support from legendary saxophonist Maceo Parker (James Brown, Parliament-Funkadelic.)

Prince and co' delivered epic, jazzy arrangements of familiar songs. Early on, "Let's Go Crazy" morphed into a down-tempo version of "Delirious" then back again. Among early set highlights was a killer mash-up of Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough" and "Cool," a hit for Prince's Minneapolis funk peers, the Time.

But missing were the deep album cuts and surprise covers from previous tours. Toward the end of the set, along those lines, fans were teased with the lead-in to one of Tipper Gore's favorite Prince cut, "Darling Nikki." Prince's Jehovah's Witness faith has kept his raunchiest lyrics and all the piano humping in check over the last decade, making that a surprising choice.

But it was just another tease. "I don't want to play that," Prince said, opting to take a bow with cleaner hit, "Kiss."

Prince had copped to making some musical mistakes earlier in the show. Surely not "Nikki." (Nah, he must have meant that hideous song he wrote for the Minnesota Vikings.)

There was also a sense that the show had been cut unnecessarily short. There was no opening act, in contrast to tour stops where the likes of Shiela E, Anthony Hamilton and Janelle Monae have made appearances. And two encores consisted of just one song each, the first bluesy, signature ballad "Purple Rain," the second a smoothed out version of "Controversy."

After being manipulated with a few false starts and the lights coming up between encores, thousands of fans lingered, wondering, "Was that it?"

That said, Prince is nearly AARP-eligibility. And maybe he was just saving his energy for one of those epic after parties he's known for. Last night's was, reportedly, held at Republiq in Seattle. But lacking that hot ticket, I'll have to wait for the inevitable bootleg like everyone else.

Prince & the New Power Generation set list

Dec. 19, 2011
Tacoma Dome

Let's Go Crazy
Little Red Corvette
Take Me With U
Raspberry Beret
Cream ("I wrote that song while I was lookin' in the mirror.")
Don't Stop Till You Get Enough/Cool (Michael Jackson/The Time mashup)
Nothing Compares 2 U
Solo medley feat. elements of When Doves Cry, Nasty Girl (Vanity 6),
Most Beautiful Girl in the World, Forever In My Life, Alphabet Street,
I Would Die 4 U
Hot Thing

Darling Nikki (snippet, "I don't wanna play that song")

Purple Rain

LINK: Live review of Jay Z & Kanye West The Throne Tour at the Tacoma Dome

Filed under: Concert Review, Music, Tacoma,

Comments for "LIVE REVIEW: Prince at the Tacoma Dome" (5)

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David said on Dec. 20, 2011 at 2:28pm

Spot on review and yes, the after party was epic. Prince and the NPG came on just after 2AM and played until 4AM.

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Lucy said on Dec. 20, 2011 at 5:48pm

So what exactly does one have to do to get invited to one of these after parties?

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Sarah said on Dec. 21, 2011 at 8:18am

Where was the after party?

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Hollie said on Dec. 21, 2011 at 11:54am

The after party was at Republiq in Seattle. It was not well advertised. I heard about it on a Prince fan site. $60. So worth it! It was incredible!

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Lucy said on Dec. 24, 2011 at 4:56am

Thanks, Hollie! now I know for next time.

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