After a less-than-desirable Night 1 kickoff, the “Prince: Welcome To Chicago” three-night residency at The United Center in Chicago, he returned Night 2 for redemption – which is exactly what was achieved. The mystery behind a Prince show is the major element that keeps people coming back. He is far from perfect, but let’s be real, does he need to be perfect? He’s Prince. He has sold 80 million albums in his career and continues to be one of the most sought after acts in the world.
After the chaos Night 1 at both The United Center and House of Blues, fans sporadically filed into the seats skeptical of what time Prince would go on and wondering if Night 2 would live up to their expectations. The doors opened at 8:00pm and many rumors were flying as to what artist (if any) would open the show and what collaborations might happen.
At 8:40 the house lights went out and the arena erupted with cheers. Prince slowly rose to stage level via a built-in stage elevator with his Telecaster behind his back wearing a patterned shirt made of silk, yellow bellbottom pants, and three-inch heels. He took a moment to listen to the cheering crowd before beginning a 90 second guitar solo. As he approached the mic he spoke to us to let us know that tonight would be different than the last. He begun by saying: “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life,” like a minister speaking to his congregation.
He did a good job the entire night of making his way around all of the sides and platforms that made up the love symbol stage. The set list was made up of hits and lots of teasers. Half way through the night he stopped and uttered an honest apology to the fans saying:
“All apologies for all the confusion yesterday. We were still working all the kinks out. I think they’re gone now.”
Prince is the definition of a band leader. Whether it was a nod to the bass player, a pantomime sign to his tech to give him his guitar, or the vocal interplay with his backup singers he knows exactly what he wants and he gets it. His role as a band leader and a stage manager is incredibly interesting to watch. He drives the momentum of every show. Most tours have become so cookie-cutter with the same light cues and backing tracks. This tour is something special.
The very minute you expect Prince to do one thing he does something completely out of left field. He is one of the best entertainers in the world and that was displayed well at the United Center in Chicago Night 2.
A major highlight of the set was “Sometimes It Snows In April.” Leave it to Prince to make it literally snow inside the United Center in late September. One of the best moments was sitting and listening to the entire crowd singing along to the wordless outro of “Purple Rain.” Another amazing moment, came in the form of an amazing guitar solo during “I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man.” It is interesting the many ways Prince talks to a crowd through music without uttering a word or lyric. The emotion from his fingers through the fretboard of the guitar translates through the speakers and speaks to people in ways that truly cannot be put into words.
The major surprise of the night came when Chicago diva Jennifer Hudson appeared on stage to join Prince for a breathtaking rendition of “Nothing Compares 2 U” that included the backing of Prince’s amazing horn section. The chemistry between Prince and Hudson was undeniable.
The one downfall of the night was the almost forced introduction of Andy Allo, who took lead vocals on several of the songs earlier in the set. She is a developing artist that Prince is acting as executive producer for. It’s one thing to promote the projects you are working on, it’s another to try and force an artist on your fans. That’s how the presentation of Andy Allo felt. Her performance wasn’t bad, but it fell very flat compared to the performances of Prince and Jennifer Hudson.
Prince did play guitar for a majority of the show, which was really fun to watch. He is a virtuoso, he is an innovator - he is Prince. His vocals were spot-on most of the night. As a performer he showed up and gave his fans their money’s worth making up for his bogus stunts just one night earlier.
The show included four encores, which were as dramatic as the show itself. A song ended to enormous applause, the house lights went up, house music went up, the fans began to leave the stadium and Prince reappeared. This happened not once, not twice, not three times, but FOUR total times.
The first encore following “Purple Rain” included “Controversy” and “How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore?”
For the second encore, he did tease a piano/synth medley of “When Doves Cry,” “Hot Thing,” and “Mr. Goodnight.” He went absolutely crazy on the guitar during “Kiss” and even brought in his own rendition of Janet Jackson’s “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” and Michael Jacksons “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough.”
The third encore included “Little Red Corvette,” which had been the surprise encore an hour after the end of the show on Night 1.
Finally, when fans refused to leave he came out for one last encore and played “Act Of God,” “What Have You Done For Me Lately?” (Janet Jackson cover), and (The theme song from “Which Way Is Up?”) “Partyman.”
All this and more in a matter of two and a half hours.
I highly recommend seeing Prince when his tour passes through your town. He is one of the great artists of all time and is an artist to add to your bucket list.
Let’s Go Crazy
U Got The Look
Sometimes It Snows In April
She’s Always In My Hair
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
Take Me With U
Cool / Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (Michael Jackson Cover)
Nothing Compares 2 U (with Jennifer Hudson)
How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
When Doves Cry
Nasty Girl (instrumental)
Sign O’ The Times
Forever In My Life
Darling Nikki (instrumental)
I Would Die 4 U
Little Red Corvette
Act Of God
What Have You Done For Me Lately (Janet Jackson cover)
(Theme Song From) Which Way Is Up?
Review by Shawn Kellner