It’s 7.30 pm in Amsterdam. Hours before, Prince had arrived in true Dutch fashion, on a bike. My place is seated, I don’t have to be here early. Prince is scheduled to start at 8.00, but since I arrived late at Justin Timberlake’s show,1 and I don’t want to miss my first opening of a Prince-show, I am here early anyway. I’m always intrigued by the demographics of a crowd. I expected the average Prince-fan to be old, grey and trying to relive the good days of their lives that happened thirty years ago. I’m not completely wrong, but I’m definitely not right either. Within five minutes I hear French, German and English being spoken. I see girls who are barely eightteen and men who already passed their thirties when His Royal Badness released his debut album. It’s fantastic.
Oh, hi Pharrell. He’s literally everywhere since Blurred Lines blew up. Prince asked the people to wear purple, but apparently finding something purple in your wardrobe is tough these days.
Or so I thought. Then I find the way to my seat and it was all purple everything:
There’s no one opening for Prince. Of course there isn’t. Who could possibly open up for Prince? Then, Prince himself starts blasting from the speakers. It’s pretty funny to see how most of the crowd think the show starts and then wonder why the lights don’t go out, the screen won’t go down and Prince isn’t on stage. Then Janelle Monae’s Q.U.E.E.N. is played and everybody realizes it’s just a very-well curated playlist. The ladies of 3RDEYEGIRL take the stage and ask the visitors to party and not take pictures. “We’re gonna play fourteen songs. And then we’re gonna play fourteen more!”. With those words, Prince opens his set. Within two-and-a-half hours I would know he wasn’t kidding.
When Let’s Go Crazy, Raspberry Beret, You Got The Look, Kiss, When Doves Cry and Sign O The Times are played within the first forty-five minutes, you know what show you can expect. I worried that he wouldn’t play his biggest hits, but I shouldn’t have. This is the greatest hits of the greatest hits of The Artist Formerly -And Now Again- Known As Prince. He seems so young on stage. You can’t tell if he’s 24 or 58. I try to capture his spirit with my phone. Not the best idea of the night. This is what you get when an angry security guy sees you taking a picture because the brightness of your phone-screen is set to max and you forget to turn the flashlight of your camera off:
Let’s just say I’m glad I still have my phone.2
“That was too much guitar for me. I didn’t like that.” The woman who said those words, was arguably the biggest fan in my section. Till then, she sang along with every word. But apparently, this much guitar isn’t very Prince-like. And I admit, after Guitar, Plectrumelectrum and Fixupyourlife, I knew what she meant. But I don’t mind it. I want to witness all the sides there are to Prince. He opened with funk. Then moved on to pop and on to guitar-heavy rock. And now, seemingly out of nowhere, he melts all these sides together with Something In The Water (Does Not Compute). It’s like a ten-minute highlight reel. It’s also the end of the regular set. I feel like this show is lasting either four hours or four minutes. I really can’t tell, but I want more.
And more is what we get.
After short versions of big hits like Condition of the Heart, Diamonds And Pearls and The Beautiful Ones, Prince and 3RDEYGIRL leave the stage again. There’s only one song missing from the very complete setlist.3 Every single person in the building knows it. There are no words needed for this. Everyone should see Prince perform Purple Rain at least once in their life. Even at 56, Prince is still king.
Featured image atop of this post is courtesy of 3RDEYGIRL's Twitter account.
- Or maybe he was just early. I can’t tell anymore. Rihanna, Nas and Anthony Hamilton keep you waiting for hours, while Jay Z, JT and LL Cool J start right on time. It’s confusing. ↩
- I’m not a big fan of taking photos at shows. I’m all for the live-in-the-moment type of shit, but I usually take one picture at every show I attend. That way, when I scroll through my pictures, I always get this “oh, remember that show, that was fun!” feeling. I like that. But when you’re watching 90% of the show on your phone-screen, you shouldn’t be here. Go home and wait for the DVD. ↩
- I personally missed The Most Beautiful Girl In The World. But Prince is one of those artists that could play for 24 hours straight and still not be able to play every hit. ↩