In my preview for this concert I mentioned the word “ICON” a few times. After seeing Prince live on his Welcome 2 Canada tour it is clear I didn’t use the word enough. When you can play possibly you “biggest hit” (Purple Rain) as the second song in your set and still keep a nearly sold out crowd entertained and singing/dancing along for another over an hour & a half then you know you are an icon.
For me and 1000s of other concert-goers, the night got off to a slow and annoying start. For reasons unknown to the public, entrance into Rogers Arena was moving at a snail’s pace and had line-ups wrapping around the stadium and down the street. Someone must have informed Prince of this prior to the show because as he was about to take the stage he asked “Is everybody in here now?” The answer was likely no, but most of us were inside by then.
So with 100s of fans still filling into their seats Prince and the New Power Generation took to the stage (a giant Prince symbol) and kicked into a high energy performance of 1995 song Gold that got those of us who were inside up out of their seats and in the dancing mood. It took all of 45 seconds for Prince to get the crowd in the palm of his hand and he didn’t let us out until he was ready to leave the stage. I think some of the Rogers Arena staff was ready for that moment about 30 minutes earlier, but who is going to tell Prince that he is over time?
Going into the concert I had an image in my head of what Prince was going to look like and how he was going to act on stage. I was bang on.
Sequins suit: CHECK
Boots with heels: CHECK
That moustache: CHECK
The voice & moves that make you think he might want to kiss you but then he leaves the show with your girlfriend…and mom: CHECK
Prince is a true entertainer. Whether he was belting out the lyric to any of his hits. Whether he had his guitar strapped on and was rocking out with the band. Whether he was in awe of Maceo Parker on the saxophone like the rest of us. Prince was the ring leader on stage the entire night. The band followed his every cue and so did the crowd. He asked us to clap, we clapped. He asked us to dance, we got up and danced. He asked us to put our cell phones in the air and wave them side to side during the chorus, we did. Prince could have asked us to go buy an $8 beer and pour it on the person sitting beside of us and in all likely hood we all would have done it.
Once the band started playing Purple Rain I looked to the section beside me and no joke a woman was in tears as she sang along to each word of the song. This was a prime example of what the Prince concert was like. It had been decades since he was in Vancouver. People had been waiting and waiting for this day to come for years. Once you see the man you have idolized and sang along to for decades play your favourite song the emotion takes over. Nobody judged the woman crying in section 110. All we did was smile at her and then get back in tune “PURPLE RAIN, PURPLE RAAAAAIIN!”
Thank you Prince. Please don’t leave us waiting as long for the next time you come here. I speak for millions across the country when I say: You are ALWAYS welcome in Canada.