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Prince at the Vogue Theatre (review)

Prince Vogue Vancouver

Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL perform at Vogue Theatre on April 15, 2013 in Vancouver, Canada. Photo by Kevin Mazur/WireImage

Review – Prince at the Vogue Theatre, Vancouver, April 15 2013

- by Shawn Conner

Prince kicked off his West Coast tour Monday night in Vancouver.

In the first of two shows tonight – followed by two more tomorrow – at the Vogue Theatre, the Minneapolis singer seemed as interested in showcasing his new back-up band as in showing off his own talents. Unfortunately he has chosen to name this trio “3rd Eye Girl”.

Never mind that, however. In fact everyone was too charged up and focused on the man in the spiky stilettos at centre stage to much care who was backing him up.

Not that the show was without controversy. The outcry over the ticket prices – $250 a pop – raised some ire when they were first announced. In the end, not enough people wanted to pay that much, and the day of the first show tickets were going for as little as $50, if you could make it to the Save On Meats butcher shop/diner in time.

Prince Vogue Theatre Vancouver

But once again, this reviewer digresses.

First off, anyone hoping for a Greatest Hits package was bound to go home disappointed. Even more so than in his arena shows, Prince does what he wants in smaller venues like the Vogue. What he wanted to do was play guitar with a rock band, and not necessarily the songs people would want to hear.

The closest he came to anything approaching a hit was “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man”, from Sign O the Times (1987), slowed down to a grunge tempo. And, for an encore, “Let’s Go Crazy” got a similar injection of grunge, and though the familiar guitar lines and chorus excited the crowd, the song’s refrain isn’t quite as convincing when the rhythm has a lead weight attached.

Not to disparage the talents of Hannah Ford, who was a monster on drums when she needed to be. The same could be said for Ida Nielsen and her bass. Donna Grantis sure had the guitar-hero moves and the slick licks, but her playing seemed colourless next to Prince’s melodic riffs and solos.

In fact there was a whole lot of 3rd Eye wankery on display as the Live Out Loud tour lived up to its name. Many of the songs hit a psychedelic rock-jam groove which at times was probably more fun for the players than the audience, although Prince is such a showman that few people will complain.

“Can I hear you Vancouver!”

“We love you Prince!”

A partial setlist includes “Screwdriver”, “She’s Always In My Hair”, “Guitar”, “FixUrLifeUp, “I Like It There” and something I think was called either “Too Young to Dare” or, just as likely considering it’s Prince, “2Y2D”. There was also “Bambi”, a resurrected early Prince song (from his 1979 debut) with a big Hendrix influence and a song that could be this tour’s signature tune. There was also a horny ballad complete with a stage candle (and footage of candles on the video screen backdrop – apparently, the song was another Prince oldie, “When We’re Dancing Close and Slow”, though I didn’t recognized). Another newer Prince number, “Cause and Effect” ended the set after less than 90 minutes.

With probably about 40 minutes to go before the theatre would have to kick us out and start letting in the late night show’s ticket-holders, we were all hoping for a big-deal encore packed with hits. Instead we got the aforementioned slowed-down “Let’s Go Crazy”. Then the houselights went up.

However by now I’m onto this guy’s tricks and so I knew enough to stick around. Sure enough, after about at least a quarter of the people had left and hundreds had shouted themselves hoarse, Prince returned for one more out-there psychedelic space-rock jam.

What else can I say? It was Prince.

Setlist* - Prince at the Vogue Theatre, Vancouver, April 15 (early show):

Ain’t Gon Miss You
Screwdriver
She’s Always In My Hair
instrumental
I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man
Guitar
FixUrLifeUp
I Like It There
When We’re Dancing Close and Slow
Bambi
2Y2D
Cause and Effect

1st encore:

Let’s Go Crazy

2nd encore:

Stratus (Billy Cobham cover)

*Not necessarily in chronological order – this is what I could piece together from my own observations as well as two other reviews – Francois Marchand’s in the Vancouver Sun and Rob Collins’ at CTV.

 

 

9 responses to “Prince at the Vogue Theatre (review)

  1. 1 year ago  

    Hoarse

  2. 1 year ago  

    Wow – 90 minutes for $250 – I wonder if the late show goes any longer… “3rd Eye wankery” meaning too much aimless jamming?

  3. 1 year ago  

    This SOUNDS like a PRINCE fan dream come true… I’m sorry you went away from the show feeling like you did… He’s DONE the Greatest hits tour.. and its a hit or miss.. the casual fan loves it.. the Hardcore fan is tired of it.. and its such a hit and miss.. Do this.. do that.. cmon! The man lives breathes and IS music.. That has to be Really frustrating… as a “fan: for Many many many years.. the joy is Music and seeing Prince and his band is about Feeling what they emit from the stage…Its NOT the HITS.. Those are songs he did to please the crowds for Years and Years…. and it sounds like HE did please. He did She’s Always in My Hair?!?!?…. Thats from ’85.. dang near 20 years ago… If u missed it before.. well he’s telling u.. Its a Damn good song. ENJOY it… When you go to a Prince concert, its More about the musicianship then the song selection.. With as many songs in their repertoire, its about Enjoying MUSIC.. The hardcore Prince fan isn’t about being there to SING along every song with him anymore.. WE did that.. we can Sit home and Play the old albums.. been there.. done that.. and EVEN if thats what he is going to play… Hell yeah, we’re going to sing along.. but lets see how he’s jamming Now.. Remember when he was inducted into the Hall of Fame and SLAYED on guitar over Tom Petty and others…. He wasn’t showing off.. he was breathing FIRE on it.. I’ve said it before and will say it again.. if u didn’t have a good time.. its your Own damn fault….

  4. 1 year ago  

    Raymond J Hanson couldn’t have said it better.

  5. 1 year ago  

    I love Prince. I adore him. BUT I have been tired of ‘the hits’ played live for years now. It all started for me when America got the Act I tour in 93. I was so excited as I had several UK shows booked and couldn’t wait to see the show with Prince performing the new album. To my horror when he rolled into the UK we got Act II which was predominantly ‘the hits’ with Prince often rushing through edited down versions seemingly played with little passion or enthusiasm. I think I went to about 6-8 shows inc. Edinburgh and Wembley Stadium and the highlight EVERY time was the encore when he’d do Johnny, Come (the uptempo version), Deuce & A Quarter etc. His own delight in playing this new music was clear to see and the encore felt almost like a mini aftershow.

    I loved the One Nite Alone tour cos he did so much new music and the Jazz vibe was just the best.

    As he comes over less often these days it’s always a treat to see him, but bittersweet if he’s just churning out the hits yet again.

    I hope and pray for a set list like this one at The Vogue when he next comes to town.

    My ideal setlist would always be everything off whatever the ‘latest’ album at the time might be, a few classic covers and some obscure Prince greats – something that never even got near the charts.

    There’s no greater feeling than suddenly recognising a song intro that he hasn’t played live before or for many years and thinking ‘OMG he’s playing this…’

    Love U Prince.

  6. 1 year ago  

    While I agree in principle, Jason and Raymond, there’s no getting around the fact that there were/are moments during this show that are just… well, boring. Maybe the most diehard/committed Prince fan can enjoy just being in the presence of his Greatness, but there’s a line between not pandering to an audience and self-indulgence. I have to say, from this fairweather fan’s perspective, the LiveOutLoud tour is very indulgent.. not to mention that the show seems to be highly choreographed, i.e. same songs same order same video each night. Again, if he doesn’t want to play the hits fine, but how about a little room for spontaneity?

  7. 1 year ago  

    Raymond hit every note worth making.

    It’s always interesting to see the frame in which people are looking through. In regards to Shawn’s review and opinions, he’s seen what he has seen and has heard what he’s heard. Perhaps he took a course on how to write a concert review.

    There are bigger things in life than opinions, reviews and expectations.

    Like music. And boy does Prince make music. The show was life changing. I’m still recovering from it. I was at the stage both nights and had the opportunity to watch Prince….. PRINCE….as himself. I’m so grateful I saw what I saw and heard what I heard.

  8. 1 year ago  

    Haha, I wish! But nope, never took a class on writing a live review…

    Don’t get me wrong, there were parts of the show I enjoyed. I just don’t see why it has to be one or the other – all hits or no hits. But it’s Prince, he does what he wants, and there are diehards out there who will love him no matter what.

    (I’m the same with Guided by Voices, but even I can admit I’ve seen some duff sets along the way.)

  9. 12 months ago  

    Thanks!

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