Concert ReviewsHot

Live Review: Prince at Chicago’s United Center and House of Blues (9/25)

on September 26, 2012, 1:33pm

 Live Review: Prince at Chicagos United Center and House of Blues (9/25)

After I skipped some rickety exposition and some shoddy character development, I came into the good part of the movie that was Prince and his Welcome 2 Chicago tour. It was always supposed to be a party, something uplifting for the city of Chicago, as he told TimeOut Chicago in an e-mail interview, Prince wanted to, “PROVIDE A LITTLE RELIEF 4 THE WORKING PEOPLE OF THE CITY, WE THOUGHT IT BEST 2 PUT 2GETHER A SETLIST THAT FEATURED ALOT OF FUN PARTY SONGS AND SOME OLDER CLASSICS BY FAVORITE ARTISTS THAT WERE EASILY RECOGNIZABLE.” [sic, obviously].

Halfway through the set, Prince hushed his band and got on the mic for a mea culpa: “All apologies for all the confusion yesterday. We were still working all the kinks out. I think they’re gone now.” The reviews of Monday night’s show were not all that great. Most said through a veil of backhanded compliments and strained smiles that Prince was “mercurial” and “baffling”, barely ever touching his guitar and opting for more covers, deep cuts, and songs that centered around his brand new funky band rather than his hits.

Last night, Prince started everything half an hour earlier at 8:30 p.m. and rose out of the stage with his Telecaster slung around his back, yellow bellbottoms, silk patterned shirt, and dainty three-inch heels. He soaked in the crowed, slid the guitar around to his chest, and just soloed for a minute above an organ hum. He strutted up to the mic wearing that curled-lip smile, and delivered those special 14 words that define evenings such as this: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today 2 get through this thing called life.”

We were at church, and Prince had the whole congregation eating out of his hand. “I got 17 thousand in this place that can testify can’t nobody do u like Prince does,” he intoned before we all gave our own version of “Preach!”. Every minute of his whole sermon was worthy of a “Preach!” I mean, the second song was “1999” which turned the whole place up even more — more of Prince ponying around The Love Symbol stage, more solos, more curled-lips, arms outstretched – welcoming us to his Chicago. Two songs in and it was already perfect. Just perfect. I was elated, out of my body, arms folded behind my head in disbelief at the one-two punch. It was perfect.

But the neat part about watching Prince be perfect is seeing how Prince controls that perfection. A small point to one of the back-up dancers, a quick nod to the bass player to give him a solo, a little wag of a finger to the other guitarist (holy shit how scary that be?), and little pantomime of him playing guitar to the pit and up flew his Telecaster into his arms and seconds later he was bending a blue note over “She’s Always In My Hair”. He mirco-managed everyone on stage, tweaking and adjusting, always with an air of encouragement — not like a Buddy Rich or James Brown intimidation. Prince as a band leader and stage manager is just as fascinating to watch as Prince the guitar player, the dancer, the model, the balladeer, the sex symbol, the total diva.

 Live Review: Prince at Chicagos United Center and House of Blues (9/25)

All of his demure, affected poses and gestures during the R&B power ballads were straight Lauren Bacall performative diva shit, and it was a pleasure to watch. All that commitment to “Sometimes It Snows In April” almost matched the climactic release of  ”Purple Rain”. But even the entire crowd singing along to the wordless outtro of his #1 ballad couldn’t best the two strongest slow jams of the night. “I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man” was simmered down into a pity-me torch song with Prince just wailing his most iconic guitar solo of the night.

Then, the premiere Chicago diva herself Jennifer Hudson joined Prince for “Nothing Compares 2 U”. Just Hudson’s presence on stage was enough to take your breath away, to say nothing of her pipes. Soul phenom Andy Allo took the lead on a couple of songs earlier in the show, backed by that air-tight horn section Prince has with him now, but she just paled compared to Hudson. Seeing Prince and Hudson sing into each other’s eyes like that — I don’t just still get chills, I still lose my breath.

All of this is to say that, yes, it was perfect. Prince played a perfect show. I have no reservations about saying this. I have no complaints. It was fully realized, all elements coming together and flowing perfectly in and out with a tightly sequenced setlist (see below). Prince sang succinct; from his falsetto coos to his funky screams out of the gut. He also played guitar about 85% of the time, with the exception of a teasing piano medley of “When Doves Cry”, “Hot Thing”, and “Mr. Goodnight”. During “Controversy”, he stroked his guitar lasciviously, and later he went just nuts on “Kiss”. He even played Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” — so what more do you want? His aim is divine perfection, and he worked for more than two and a half hours to do it. Sorry for the hyperbole rocking you.

Four encores couldn’t suffice, and the ultimate finale took place at the House Of Blues. This set, however, was a more free-form, full-funk jam with Prince slinking around stage in a black pea coat, demanding he got it on the 1 (that never gets old, by the way). On Monday, Prince was a no-show for his after-party, but at 12:55 a.m., the curtain opened up and the whole band was there, soon vamping to “Mountains”. It was funny, because this was the kind of set that a no-name band of top-tier jazz cats would play at the House of Blues on any given night, only it was Prince’s band and good God were they on point.

Prince sang along to a covers of “Everyday People”, “The Jam”, and Gary Moore’s “Listen To Your Heartbeat”, mostly letting the band take the reins (I had written down what these songs were on napkins, but an errant beer at the end of the night made quick work of those notes). After a short set break, Prince reemerged saying that he’s going to take it easy on his vocals — so he played bass, spaced out like Bootsy with the phaser and some slap to go along with it.

From what I gathered, this was what he was trying to do at the United Center Monday night, just have a big ol’ party. “Can we do it like we used to do in the ’80s?” he said more than once during the show. It may have fell flat at the United Center, but the whole was dancing to funk and soul music — whooping for drum solos, hollering after soprano sax solos, screaming after a scat solo — like it was the next big thing that’s going to blow up all over the Chicago scene.

Let’s Go Crazy
Delirious (tease)
Let’s Work
U Got The Look
Sometimes It Snows In April
People Pleaser
She’s Always In My Hair
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
Take Me With U
Raspberry Beret
Cool / Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (Michael Jackson Cover)
Nothing Compares 2 U (with Jennifer Hudson)
Purple Rain
Encore #1:
How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
Encore #2:
When Doves Cry
Nasty Girl (instrumental)
Sign O’ The Times
Hot Thing
Alphabet St.(instrumental)
Forever In My Life
Darling Nikki (instrumental)
Mr. Goodnight
I Would Die 4 U
Encore #3:
Little Red Corvette
Encore 4:
Act Of God
What Have You Done For Me Lately (Janet Jackson cover)
(Theme Song From) Which Way Is Up?

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November 28, 2012 at 8:44 am

I have figured out the major E, G, C, D, A,and ,minor E, A. I was hoping to keep moving on. Could I get more for my guitar lessons. I am having a great time learning to play my guitar. Thanks!!

October 18, 2012 at 9:57 pm

tell me SOMEONE recorded this show or at the very least has an MP3 of the slow jam version of “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”

Mike Walsh
September 30, 2012 at 9:44 am

I was at the Monday 9/24 show and his Purpleness basically didn’t give a shit about the crowd. Starting and hour late and bragging out the final encore an hour is just arrogant. It’s a Monday night after all. He would have to assume that the majority of the crowd has a job to pay for the $100+ tickets. Very disappointing

September 29, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I was at Wednesdays Show and i was amazed and this was my third time seeing that GENIUS perform. He did a great job and it dd not seem like anyone was disappointed at that show. You people need to realize that he did not do this for the money but for the REBUILD THE DREAM charity. Do your homework,and also please realize that HE IS HUMAN AS WELL, and people do have bad days sometimes. UGH!!!! Signed A TRUE PRINCE FAN FOR 25+ years.

September 29, 2012 at 8:50 pm

I went on Tuesday, and it was the worst concert I’ve ever seen anybody present in hundreds of shows I’ve attended over the past 30 years. I can’t even imagine how bad he was Monday, but if you were there Monday and thought you would have gotten your money’s worth had it been Tuesday, you can stop thinking that. These shows clearly had haphazard planning on every level, not the least being the sound, which was mud at the show I attended. I lost all respect for Prince last week. Brother owes me $330–but let’s make that an even $300, because I have to say it was worth $30, literally, just to see him.

September 27, 2012 at 10:31 pm

I was at Monday’s show in the 300 seats..and ne-ver again! When I purchased the 49.50 tix for the Mr. & I, it was w/the thought of just being in the bldg. BUT, NE-VER again will I sit in the steep/nosebleed 300s at the United Center…NE-VA! We didn’t enjoy the show.
SO, yesterday, w/a feeling that I just had to be there for the 3rd and final show, I purchased a floor seat for me/myself/I….’bout 2 hours before the show and I must say…..THE SHOW WAS MINDBLOWING! Coincidentally, the young lady sitting next to me in seat 2, I in 1…was there w/self also. We had a blast :) The Prince did not disappoint. From this point on, I don’t do the cheap seats, FOR NO ONE(.) What the hellz was I thinkin? 49.50? Please!

Suzanne from Michigan
September 27, 2012 at 9:53 pm

Sorry Prince- Though I revel in the memory of the days of your royal badness, dating back to 1981 Deeeetroit style-
You desperately need to borrow a page from the consumate showman/writer/producer- Barry Gibb.
or any ONE of his now deceased brothers.
You are all geniouses,
however- they NEVER-EVER lost site of the value of their devoted fans.
They were NEVER disrepectful.
And the US music industry, unprecedentedly, threw them directly under the bus.
However, it’s been FIFTY YEARS and still, he creates.
Rob- right to the very end.
I imagine you were born to this earth to do the same.
Show some appreciation for the gift you’ve been given
and to those that recognize that gift.

Jamie Starr
September 27, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Prince (54) is doing great. He gives us his ALL in every concert. Is he really supposed to play (piano and guitar) and dance (leaps and pirouttes and on his knees in HEELs) and run all around the stage and sing (high notes and lows with screeches and screams and growls) and conduct the whole band for 3 hours every night for three nights straight and do an after show? He is the hardest working and most talented performer out there. Some nights are better than others, and I’m sure he gave us the best he had.

September 27, 2012 at 3:32 pm

u must understand. P has been on tour 4 about 3 years straight, with time off here and there, so even he is entitled to make a mistake, or not feel good, while still trying his best. It happens………so give him a break …………he strives to please, and 4 perfection, but sometimes it snows it April…………peace.

Joanne Halfacre
September 27, 2012 at 2:58 pm

The real Prince came out on Tues. and Wed. Did anyone record this masterpiece???????

September 27, 2012 at 2:28 pm

I don’t think it should be Encore 1 and Encore 2 – But, Set 1, Set 2 and then an Encore…

Toni Sanford-Brown
September 27, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I was at the 9/24 concert, and after reading the reviews of his 9/25 show, I feel so cheated!! I think that everyone who attend on 9/24 should be entitled to FREE encore show.

Krista K. Harris
September 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm

I attended the Wednesday night after party at the HOB. I paid 150 per ticket for that and it was a huge disappointment. Prince didn’t even start until after 1:30 AM and played, at best 2 songs. He let his back up singer sing most songs, brought on an artist from Atlanta for 4 songs. Everyone would have walked out on her (some did), but they expected that Prince was coming back so they waited thru the excruciatingly long 4 songs she performed. Since Prince had only been on stage about 35 minutes the first time and didn’t really sing, everyone thought he was coming back out….no go. So around 3:30 – 4 AM people started to file out. Everyone was very disappointed and I must say, I don’t know if I will attend a Prince concert in the future with the very mixed reviews that he received.

September 27, 2012 at 10:30 am

I was at last night concert (Wednesday) and was very disappointed. Let me start off by saying i’m a big Prince fan- I saw him up in Milwaukee the last time he toured in 2004 and I walked out of that pavillion that night and was blown away. … Couldn’t rave enough about him and the entire performance. It was so worth the money. Last night I walked away feeling jipped. I paid $220 per ticket (bought 2) for a seat on the main floor (Floor 2 Row 4) only to find out that I would be starring at the back of his band set up. Then there was the endless amount of fog that they kept producing at our end making it even harder to see anything. He did walk around the stage and occasionally would come to the back of the stage where we sat and a few of those times the fog was so heavy you couldn’t even see him. The music was good but completely fizzeld out when he walked off stage and realized an encore wasnt going to happen when they started breaking down the equipment. Just as everyone started to leave their seats to leave he came out on a bike and got back on stage. He didn’t seem to want to perform again but reluctantly sat down at the piano and did one last song. At this point we werent allowed to get back to our seats and we stood on the steps by one of the exits- we din’t even stay for the whole song- we said screw it and left. I wouldn’t call this the Welcome to Chicago Tour- It was more like “I need to pay the bills” Tour. After reading all the reviews I feel like last night show was a repeat of Monday’s show except he played more guitar this time. Tuesday was the night to see him from what I read- that was the show I was hoping to see.

September 27, 2012 at 10:37 pm

I was at Monday’s show in the 300s and at yesterday’s show on the main floor (FL5/Row 6). WOW, sorry you didn’t enjoy, as I thought that last nite’s show was mindblowing, compared to Monday.

El Oso
September 27, 2012 at 11:43 pm

First off, no one here is a real Prince fan if you walk out of a show. Cause you would know the purple yoda is completely unpredictable and will, or will not come back out to do an encore. This isnt Madonna or Lady Gaga people, this is about the music. No show will be the same. I went on Monday and it was amazing. I stayed the extra hour before he came out and did and encore and was totally redeemed, just by those 2 songs. It was outstanding. The other people that were left thought so too cause everyone was going mad. Prince jammed for 2 + hours straight and it was a total party. Do i wish he played his guitar more, yes, do i wish he played a few more jams he played Tuesday, yes. But by no means was it a ‘jip’ or a ‘bad show’ or a ‘waste of time’. He’s playing 3 nights, every night is gonna be different cause as i said, he’s unpredictable. And all those bad reviews (looking at you Kot) are total bs, you either have no pulse, or don’t know anything about music. Monday night was outstanding.

And to you miavegirl. Look at a seating chart before you buy tickets. Seats right in the back of a 10 ft stage, probably not the best seats to get.

Matthew Kent
September 27, 2012 at 7:36 am

Kim, I feel utterly disappointed by Mondays show and i drove up from Atlanta. No correcting that…

September 26, 2012 at 10:26 pm

I feel so cheated having seen Monday’s show…cheated out of an encore and tne REAL Prince. What I wouldn’t give to get a re-do…

September 26, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Perfect show. Excellent review. We’re going back tonight.

September 26, 2012 at 5:07 pm

I was there Monday night, and I feel even more upset about it, after hearing how good he was on Tuesday. Its an ABSOLUTE joke that he didnt have the kinks out before his show on Monday. I mean at $100 a ticket, he made a lot of money for the poor performance. I was a huge fan of him, but not anymore.

September 26, 2012 at 4:06 pm

i went to Prince’s show on Monday and despite the negative reviews, I thought he was outstanding!!! How cool for the folks that saw him on Tuesday!! :)

Shilpa Bavikatte
September 26, 2012 at 3:13 pm

PREACH brother! Everything you said/felt was the truth. Most musicians nowadays can’t touch him on musicality, artistry, flair, and pure f*cking talent. There is no one else out there like him… and last night, he proved it to everyone at the United Center.

September 26, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Thanx for this concert review experiencing Prince live for almost 30 years I knew he could redeem himself for Monday night & he truly did. I’m so proud of him. Prince is so discipline even still after all these years in the music business.

Prince is a class act

September 26, 2012 at 2:29 pm

It was a beautiful concert, i agree, simply beautiful. it was literally perfect and Prince’s voice and guitar!! My god!!


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