Prince and 3rdEyeGirl Rock Anaheim
No photographers allowed. And no cell phones allowed. Thus no tweeting allowed. Or risk immediate ejection by security types, who spent the evening spotting transgressors and asking them sternly to delete any images taken or recorded.
Yes, it was a Prince concert -- the May 7 kickoff of his two-night stand at The City National Grove of Anaheim. He returned on Wednesday for the final show of that run before his current West Coast tour (which kicked off April 15 in Vancouver, British Columbia) heads to Denver's Ogden Theatre (May 12-13). Then he'll be commanding center stage at the Billboard Music Awards on May 18 when he receives the magazine's Icon Award. After that, there's a three-night stint at the Montreux Jazz Festival (July 13-15). And next maybe that rumored new album.
Although you never know what Prince may have up his sleeve at any given performance, here's what Denver fans can reasonably expect when he hits town. This West Coast run doubles as an introduction to his all-female band 3rdEyeGirl. And the trio -- Canadian guitarist Donna Grantis, Danish bass guitarist Ida Nielsen and drummer Hannah Ford from Kentucky -- didn't disappoint.
Over the course of two hours and several encores (a second show started around midnight), the combustible quartet funk-rocked their way through longtime faves, album tracks and new songs. He and the ladies opened around 8:30pm with a mellow take on "Let's Go Crazy." From there, they romped through such tracks as "Not Like I Love My Guitar," "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man," "She's Always in My Hair" and "Crimson and Clover" as well as new songs "Screwdriver," "FixURLifeUp" and 2Y2D (aka "2 Young 2 Dare").
Prince, dressed in black, form-fitting pants, a black and white long-sleeved top, silver/black overcoat and black high-heeled boots, kept the audience fired up throughout the set. Alternately dancing, vamping while making eye contact with folks crowded around the stage, he never lost sight of who he was there for: his fans.
The intimate ambience of the City National Grove provided the right backdrop for that conversation. Prince moved effortlessly between his still mesmerizing guitar licks to his gospel-charged turns on the keyboards. Between that, he generously shared the spotlight with Hannah, Ida and Donna as each one formidably displayed their prowess and passion on their respective instruments.
With a discreet flick of his fingers or slight body movement, the trio deftly and intuitively followed his lead -- like they'd been playing with each other for years. Adding to the overall effect: spotlights throwing off warm hues of purple and blue around the frequently darkened stage and a video screen covering the back of the stage, flashing various images from blooming flowers and lyric videos to psychedelic designs.
At the end of the show, you realize there is a method to what some may view as Prince's no photo/no cell phone madness. For him, it's not about photos, not about Tweeting. It's about keeping fans' undivided attention; about having them stay in the music moment with him. After all, he doesn't need photos or Twitter to trend. He's Prince.