This week, we’ve decided to change up the format of the Five Shows column and dedicate the piece to the incredible performer, musician and artist known to the world as Prince. We’ve asked five Amplify members to tell us about their favorite memories seeing Prince in concert. Have a story about Prince you’d like to share? Leave it in the comment section below. Enjoy.
February 18, 2007 at 3121 at the Rio Hotel, Las Vegas
By Bobby Reynolds, AEG Live Las Vegas
3121 was his spot. It was his club. He had the home-field advantage. I was working for AEG at the time and living in Chicago. We had comedian Katt Williams playing the Joint and it was NBA All-Star Weekend. The Katt show went great, but I couldn’t wait to get the hell out of there and over to the Rio for Prince! I don’t remember a more crowded weekend in Vegas than the NBA All-Star Weekend. The city had a palpable buzz and when you walked into the Rio, wow… the buzz was strongest there. The doors opened near midnight and the crowd shuffled in. Celebrities, athletes and less famous fans alike packed the room and waited for royalty to come on stage. Prince came out and put on a clinic. His voice was impeccable, his moves were out of this world and his guitar playing… it blew me away. I had seen Prince before… in this actual venue but for some reason, this time he just crushed it on guitar. Maybe he was just extra on point that night. Maybe he was showing off in front of “his peers”. Whatever it was, was magical. Prince often took a lap around the venue while playing guitar and talking to the crowd. That night he stopped right in front of me and just played the shit out of his guitar. It’s maybe my favorite concert moment anywhere. When I’ve told this story before, people ask why I didn’t take a picture. I was far too in awe to think with a clear mind.
September 19, 1997 at the Nutter Center, Dayton
By Misty Cox, Nutter Center
Prince was the very first concert I worked at the Nutter Center. At the time, he went by his “Symbol” or The artist formerly known as Prince. He was on his Jam of the Year Tour. It was very memorable for me for two reasons. First, the show was booked, announced, went on sale and took place all within a 9-day period. Nothing like that has ever happened since. Fans were crazy with excitement. The promoters wanted hype… and they got it.
It was also the first concert I ever worked in the industry. I had just been hired as a marketing intern at the Nutter Center, and they needed a couple of runners for the show. I wasn’t sure what to expect as a “runner,” but I quickly found out. I ended up meeting Prince before he went on stage. Even though he was small and dainty, he seemed larger than life. Needless to say, it was one of the most memorable moments in my career. He played all of his hits including Purple Rain, Little Red Corvette, Raspberry Beret and Kiss. He danced around the stage and had the sold-out crowd on their feet for two hours, all the while playing his guitar and purple piano named Beautiful. It was electric; I’ll never forget it.
March 6, 1982, The MetroCentre in Rockford, Ill.
By Doug Logan, former Rockford MetroCentre General Manager
I remember someone making the date available to me in late 1981. Prince had opened for a couple of Stones shows on the West Coast on the Tattoo You! Tour that fall. I heard he was not well received and had cut his performances short, but he also had great reviews of his Palladium shows in NYC. I called Bill Graham who told me “the kid’s a genius” so I bought the date.
Backstage the corridors were filled with the luminaries of the Minneapolis music scene. Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis were there… Sheila Escovedo [Sheila E] was drop-dead gorgeous! Morris Day and The Time Band opened the show and the audience was almost exhausted by intermission. Then this elfin androgynous kid gets up in front of these incredible musicians [before they were known as The Revolution] and they just kill! It’s so long ago I can’t remember much of the playlist but I do remember “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover.” The sexual energy coming from the stage was palpable. I stood in behind the barricades, stage right, the entire show and was transfixed. I could tell this was the next Michael Jackson or Quincy Jones. I think the encore was “Controversy”.
This guy was an enigma. A shy, soft-spoken kitten who shouted out his art. Not quite black; not quite Italian [similar ethnic ambiguity to Tiger Woods]. A waterfall of sensuality in whatever gender package you wanted him to be. And, a master lyricist, musician, arranger, brand-maker and businessman. He was perfect for his generation, filled with contradictions, openness, disruptions and celebrity. I loved to do business with him through the ‘80s. I will remember him through a short lyric from “Controversy”.
Some people call me rude/ I wish we were all nude/ I wish there was no black and white/ I wish there were no rules.
May 13 & 14, 2013 at the Ogden Theatre, Denver
By Darcy Schneider, Madison House Presents
Hands down the most magical “evening with” we’ve ever been witness to. Prince was at The Ogden Theatre for two nights and a total of four shows. We went to the late show the first night… we paid for tickets. I don’t mean that in a spoiled way, but just to emphasize how bad we wanted to be there. I heard that Prince made Don Strasburg buy a new curtain for the shows (and it was gorgeous).
We were 2nd or 3rd row, standing… and the show started with the kick drum booming in the pitch black. Prince had his back to the audience. His hair was in a cool fro and he was shaking his little butt to the beat. When he turned around, he had the little “coke bottle glasses” on and we were totally mesmerized.
He was playing with 3rdeyegirl, who were ridiculous. Prince was wailing on the guitar and the piano as well… and I’m not sure what was more impressive, the fact that he personally played so amazingly well or the fact that he directs everyone on stage simultaneously while also playing. He performed an epic mix of what you came to hear (Purple Rain, 7, etc) but also a ton of new tunes that we hadn’t heard and that just reminded us that this dude never stops creating. Never.
The next night, we are in bed watching “Game Of Thrones” – and can’t quite get the previous night’s show out of our heads. Jake texts Don to see if he’s willing to walk us in if we come down… he agrees (shhhh….). Then we think maybe we should just chill and be responsible and stay in… until Don texts us that Prince’s crew just asked him if they could go past curfew (Prince was obviously renown for his late night marathon shredders and we ALWAYS wanted to be a part of one). Needless to say we LEAPT out of bed. Jake throws on jeans (while, truthfully, I think I was actually still wearing my pajamas), and we sped our asses to Denver from Boulder in record time.
Another breathtaking show – a little more of the old stuff (in addition to bringing all the ladies from the audience onstage, which included Sarah Finger and Mal Squitieri From AEG Live Rocky Mountain)… but alas, he ended on time. Truly – it didn’t matter. We would love the opportunity to leap out of bed for him again… sigh…
August 22, 1997, Bridgestone Arena and Music City Mix Factory, Nashville
By Pam Matthews, International Entertainment Buyers Association
Then there was the AFTERSHOW!!! It was pretty clear that someone from the tour chose the aftershow venues. No local would have picked those places. That night in Nashville, it was the Music City Mix Factory. We called it the “Cheese Factory.” The only night that club was ever cool was the night Prince played there. It was a completely different setup and vibe than the evening’s arena performance. The room was tiny and the stage was maybe 2′ high. No barricade. It wasn’t difficult to elbow your way right up to the center of the stage and that’s exactly what I did. In 1997, Prince and I were about the same size. Five people who knew both of us agree that we could have worn each other’s clothes. I remember contemplating that as I stood (literally) at his feet at the Cheese Factory. Prince was a beautiful man — physically BEAUTIFUL. In my memory, there was a show at Starwood that night and everyone was telling each other that Price was waiting on the band who played there to join him for the after party. I’m little fuzzy on the details because the after jam didn’t start until 1 or 2 am. I do remember Larry Graham was there, and the band played “The Jam.” Prince didn’t play every “hit” during the arena show; he even often saved a couple for the AFTERSHOW — which he closed that night with “1999.”
Founder & Executive Editor at Amplify Media
Dave Brooks has over 15 years experience as a writer, including eight years as the Managing Editor of Venues Today. He started Amplify in 2014 to give the industry its own voice and turn up the volume on live entertainment.
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