Last night, Prince kicked off what we hope is just the first leg of his "Welcome 2 America" tour with a rocking show at the Izod Center in New Jersey. Oh it was funky y'all!!
We were treated to not one, but two opening acts before Prince took the symbol-shaped O(+> stage. First up was jazz artist Esperanza Spalding who we'd seen perform at the Prince tribute during the 2010 BET Awards earlier this year. Then it was time for soul songstress Lalah Hathaway who was beautiful in a flowing blue dress. Both ladies would join Prince during his set later on - Spalding for co-vocals on "If I Was Your Girlfriend" and Hathaway sharing vocals on "Sometimes it Snows in April" and "Diamonds and Pearls".
Then it was time for the one and only. "I am here, where r u?" Prince asked the crowd after opening with the funky, unexpected "Lay Down" track from his album 20Ten. The crowd was in a frenzy as Prince strutted around the stage in a gold ruffle shirt, black pants, sunglasses and a long leather coat. He was ready to funk.
That was the only new song we'd hear as it was a night for Prince classics and fan favorites. We were treated to "Beautiful Ones" IN ITS ENTIRETY - the ladies were going crazy for this one, especially when he screamed "Do u want me?". Yes we do!!!
Other classic hits we heard included "Cream", "Raspberry Beret", "Uptown", "Let's Work" - so many hits, so little time! Hardcore fans were pinching themselves when Prince strapped on his new gold guitar (that will be auctioned off for charity after the tour) and launched into "She's Always in my Hair", a favorite b-side from 1985 (thank u Prince!!!).
Prince was backed up by three talented singers all night - Elisa Dease, Liv Warfield and Shelby J, who fans were surprised to see as she lost her father unexpectedly last week. But the music must be healing because Shelby was in great form and performed a beautiful version of "Angel" by Sarah McLachlan with her sisters backing her up. Shelby also waved a large flag during "Purple Rain" that had an angel drawn on it with some writing. A tribute to her Dad perhaps? We couldn't read it from our side of the stage.
Prince and Shelby performed a great duet of "Nothing Compares 2 U" - great chemistry and love there. Prince acknowledged her return by saying "it's good to have you back".
Prince broke it down later in the show with some steamy ballads - "Insatiable", "Scandalous", and the lady-melting "Adore". Wooh - we could hardly contain ourselves!! He closed out the main set with a long rendition of "Purple Rain" and had the entire arena on its feet, waving their arms. He worked every corner with his Hohner, calling for more "Woo ooo ooo ooo!"'s from the hyped up crowd.
But we weren't done yet! Not even close! We got a long encore that kicked off with "Kiss" - Prince's latest substitution in the song? "You don't have to watch...the L Word...to have an attitude". LOL! Spalding and Hathaway performed with Prince during the encore, and we also got Prince on piano for a quick version of "All the Critics Love U in New York" - of course, how could we not have predicted he'd play this??
We go one more dose of serious funk with "Controversy" - clap your hands, stomp your feet (mine still hurt today!). It was thick! Then some fans were invited on stage to dance and party along with "Sexy Dancer" and "Le Freak" by Chic.
Prince had amazing energy all night long, and the band was in great form. Prince's dance moves during Kiss were awesome - you could tell he was just feeling the funk and enjoying the moment. We can't wait to see what he brings on Friday night at the Izod, when Maceo Parker and Cassandra Wilson will join him.
Thanks 2 Prince and the band for a GREAT show!!!