The most amazing moment of Friday's (Dec. 17) Prince concert, his second of the "Welcome 2 America" tour, came without neon lights, choreographed dancing or even a Sheila E. drum solo.
After Prince and his backing band wrapped up a five-song encore and deserted the stage, the house lights at East Rutherford, NJ's Izod Center were turned on -- usually, the death knell for a return appearance possibility. As some fans started grabbing their coats and heading toward the exits, more fans stayed in place and kept yelling, pleading for the Purple One to play more.
Sure enough, the players returned to their instruments after a five-minute break, and a visibly delighted Prince once again took the stage, high-fiving fans and giddily stomping his yellow high heels on the black platform beneath him. "They're gonna have to kick us out now," Prince told the crowd, eliciting the loudest cheers of the night and launching into a four-song finale.
The impromptu encore capped off a spectacular performance in which Prince did what every audience member wanted him to do: roll out the classics and absolutely murder them. "Let's Go Crazy," "Delirious" and "1999" were an unstoppable opening trio, while "The Beautiful Ones" featured breathtaking choreography between Prince and a ballerina. "Kiss" and "Take Me With U" were unbridled doses of funk, and "Purple Rain" brought the house down with a searing guitar solo.
The uniquely crafted stage show matched the set list, with Prince and his backup singers strutting across a stage shaped like Prince's unpronounceable symbol and the light from multiple disco balls glimmering across the audience. And the top-notch backing musicians only sounded better when a vivacious Sheila E. brought out a pair of snares and pounded through "The Glamorous Life."
Yet none of the theatrical details would have mattered if Prince had not delivered such a masterfully uninhibited performance. At age 52, he still commands the gaze of everyone in attendance with loose-limbed spin moves, expert guitar noodling and sexually charged glances.
In between two costume changes (the highlight: a gold turtleneck with sparkling sequins), Prince was a charming master of ceremonies; at one point, he asked the audience what song he should play next. "Slow down!" he demanded between handclaps during the breakdown of "Little Red Corvette," his small frame shaking in the red light. Prince is still putting on unforgettable shows three decades into his career, and shows no signs of ever slowing down.