Prince live at the LA Forum (May 27, 2011) – The G Review

Posted by The G on May 28, 2011 under G Reviews | 16 Comments to Read

Photos by G.

Prince - Forum May 27, 2011

Prince

In case you didn’t know, I am a die-hard Prince fan.  I’ve seen him in concert in excess of 50 times in multiple cities across the United States.  In recent years, I have started to fall out of love with him primarily because of his religious beliefs.  In the late 1990s, he became a Jehovah’s Witness.  His music which had formerly been so open-minded became preachy and intolerant of any belief system that varied from his own, which is contrary to some of the core reasons I became a fan.  In my personal opinion, he also stopped taking artistic chances.  Whereas you would never know what to expect when you saw him in concert, he seemed to have settled and has become a “greatest hits” artist appeasing not the people who stuck by him through embarrassing name changes (from Prince to an unpronounceable symbol and back again) to record label disputes and instead plays for casual fans who don’t realize that Prince has continued to make albums consistently since “Diamonds and Pearls” in 1991.  Of course I was sad to see songs with “dirty” words get dropped permanently from his setlists (because let me tell you that it was an amazing experience for 20,000 people to shout out “you sexy motherfucker” in unison), but I respected his need to do things his way. 

It’s been a few years since I’ve seen Prince in concert and the last time I saw him, I was at a very exclusive one-off gig where I stood less than arm’s length from him for over 3 hours while he played guitar like it was everybody’s last night on earth. For the reasons above I decided I should probably stop seeing him live so as not to ruin all the life-changing moments we’ve shared together.  It just so happened that as I booked my vacation to Los Angeles, Prince was in the middle of playing 21 concerts in LA.   Getting the opportunity to see Prince live with my brother and my best friend, who are as big of fans as I am, was such a rare thing, I decided to go see Prince on May 27, 2011 at the Los Angeles Forum.

One thing that can be said about Prince – he has some very cool fans.  At a Prince concert, you should definitely expect to see every ethnic and socio-economic background represented and everybody there is ready to party! You’ll see people decked out in their finest threads, colorful suits and a lot of women in lingerie.  My good fortune would have it that Nikka Costa opened the show with a brief set that included “Like A Feather,” “Keep Pushin,” “Everybody Got Their Something,” “Can’t Please Everybody” as well as a new song from Nikka’s upcoming EP (which will be released in the summer of 2011).  As always, they don’t call her the “funky white bitch” for nothing!  She had the Forum up out of their seats and dancing.  When Prince hit the stage around 9:30, he started off the show with a medley of snippets of songs which included “When Doves Cry,” “Nasty Girl” (by Vanity 6 – which Prince penned), “Forever in My Life,” “Hot Thing” and a lyric free tease of “Darling Nikki,” one of Prince’s “nastier” songs.  I felt this was progress as years ago, he publicly announced he’d no longer play that song live.  At one point early on in the concert, Prince even opened his shirt, suggesting that “dirty Prince” is slowly coming back to us (you can see a picture, after the jump).  I was getting pretty excited. 

Prince and Nikka Costa

Prince and Nikka Costa

 Things started to go downhill from there as he went straight into a very “safe” set list.  Now, let me also say that Prince sounds great, he looks amazing and his band is tight.  You certainly get your moneys’ worth when you go see him and he still remains one of the best live performers out there.  It looks like Prince.  It sounds like Prince.  But it’s not the Prince that used to pull random songs out of thin air and reward all the people that have stuck by his side through thick and thin.  It’s the equivalent of seeing new works by Salvador Dali, only to find they are stick figures instead of the amazing paintings the world knows he is capable of making.  Aside from a rant about Facebook and Twitter and telling the audience to “be present at the concert instead of texting,” gone were the overly preachy Jehovah’s Witness propaganda that Prince has been trying to shove down people’s throats for years.  To my disgust, however, he is still singing “Open up your Bibles and let God guide you to the Purple Rain,” but for die-hards like myself, “Purple Rain” has become one of the songs where you take a bathroom break because he’s played the song nearly at every show since its release in 1984.   

The fact that he obviously had hip surgery (as he dances all over the stage – though does not do the splits anymore) and is using “the Prince symbol” as his stage design (when JWs are against symbolism) suggests that Prince has either been disfellowed or is on his way out of the religious cult.  He recently publicly stated that it should be illegal to perform cover songs and a show staple is a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough” which morphs into “Cool,” a cover version of a track he wrote for The Time.  It’s hard to say what’s going on in his Gemini mind, because he is one of the most contradictory artists I’ve ever encountered. One thing is certain (from my 50+ concert experiences of seeing Prince), you can clearly see the dollar signs in his eyes.  I refuse to believe that a person who allegedly has written a new song a day since 1978 enjoys playing “Kiss” and “Purple Rain” night after night at the expense of his artist integrity.  Security guards were extremely strict about the taking of photographs which makes no sense in an age where picture taking has become part of the concert experience (for better or for worse).  It was actually very intrusive to the show and as someone who goes to as many shows as I do, I certainly think I have a lot of experiences to compare and contrast this to.  I still have hopes that one day Prince will stop being such a douche bag about his image (especially since he can still pull off his unique look and sound like nobody else can) and focus on setting trends instead of following them.  I know that somewhere deep down, that this Prince I speak of  is still alive, and on behalf of all the die-hards – we want that Prince back!  I don’t think that’s too much to ask!

See the set list and a photo of Prince with his shirt open after the jump.

The setlist for Prince on May 27, 2011 was:

Sample set:

When Doves Cry(2 verses) /Nasty girl /Sign O’ The Times (2 verses) /The Most Beautiful Girl in the World /Alphabet St. (1 verse) /Forever in my life (1 verse) /Darling Nikki /Hot thing (2 verses) /I would die 4 u (1 verse) /DMSR /Pop life /Musicology /Prince and the band (with Maceo Parker) /Shhh! /U will be with me / Renato solo /Take me With U /Anotherloverholenyohead /Peach /Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough /Cool /Let’s work /U got the look / Make me feel my love (sung by the backup singers) /Purple rain (with Maceo Parker)

First encore
Alph st intro – A Love Bizarre (with Nikka Costa on vocals) /I know u got soul /Controversy /Housequake chant

Encore 2
Disco heat /Baby I’m a star /Kiss
Encore 3
Nothing Compares 2 u (duet with Shelby J.)

Prince

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  • Angela L said,

    U took a LOT of words right out of my mouth! I agree with a LOT of what U said! As a Prince fan for as many years as U, I have always wanted to see his shows LIVE because of knowing that yes…he will play songs “out of thin air”!

    I’ve seen 12 shows at The Forum and 2 intimate shows during this run. The tour reminds me a lot of Musicology where I can almost know when he will play the next song. But he has changed up the beginning most nights and tries to tweek it slightly just for kicks.

    Let me just get the disagreeable comments out of the way…Purple Rain is a song to take a walk, get some water, stretch out ur legs, go to the restroom and so on. But I have seen a lot of the shows at The Forum and that was the FIRST time he mentioned the “bible” in his song. Also, the unpronouncable symbol name change was not ridiculous in my eyes. Knowing that Prince is an artist/musician, sometimes artist do things to make a point, and to me, Prince was making a point to tell people about his “issues” with his label. I just saw the artistic side of the name change and honestly, it makes a cool setting for a stage! lol My last disagreeing point would be the Twitter and FB comment, I can see why Prince can sometimes dislike it…in some ways people don’t pay attention at shows like we did before we had cell phones with text/cameras/internet access. Back in the day, people came to the show and was IN THE MOMENT. It’s one of those things I try and do at his shows….enjoy/dance/sweat/sing while watching the show and not text my friend while he sings the songs at the moment. I do text when it’s a break between songs…ain’t gonna lie about NOT texting though. lol

    On to the agreeing points…I remember going to small venues and not knowing the setlist, Prince will just KILL us with an amazing show that will keep in my memory forever. I lived for LIVE shows when it came to Prince, he was the only artist I would pay the extreme price to see LIVE. Throughout the years I have always anticipated his new album releases and couldn’t wait to hear his new tracks. But those days seem to be dwindling when nowadays his LIVE shows are filled with “hits” and his albums aren’t FUNKY and FRESH and EXPERIMENTAL as it was before.

    Although I do miss the years of FUNK and ROCK we shared with Prince I still want more of it…but it disappoints me when I show up to an intimate show and I get the same setlist as the other intimate show I saw a week before. I don’t want to give up on an artist that I have LOVED for many years and was my escape throughout some of my hardest times in my life….his music was always there for me. I won’t lie, I will still see Prince whenever I can….maybe I just want to hold on to the “wishful thinking” that he will one day play a setlist worth writing about.

    I still LOVE seeing him do his thang on stage, either it be playing on the piano, rocking the guitar, dancing like he is 25 again or just being playful with the crowd. I do enjoy seeing him LIVE in some aspects. I know he is trying to appeal to casual fans, of course he doesn’t have a strong base of fans like he did years ago…maybe he wants to appeal to the new generation too. And I think he has his kicked his “purple hippies” to the curb because of it. It sucks but I still “feen” to see him live over and over again….

    I wish things could change over night and maybe tomorrow his set will be FUCKING ridiculous…but yet, it’s my “wishful thinking” and not giving up on him. I don’t want to miss a moment and I think a lot of us are feeling the same way. (maybe not u G, but some)

    I feel like I rambled WAY too much! But I just wanted to get those thoughts out of my head and disagree and agree with a lot of what u said.

    Tonight will be my 15th show total this run and maybe it’s getting tiresome or wasteful, but that part of me still wants to feel like there is still something worth seeing. If not, I’ll just grumble and discuss my dislike about the show with my P friends, waiting until the next show to see if he’ll pull “Extra Lovable” out of thin air.

  • G said,

    I think a lot of people keep coming back for the feeling that “the old prince” used to give them. I won’t lie, I felt “that old feeling” last night too (and I didn’t expect to feel it at all), it’s just that interspliced with that old feeling, there were a lot of times where I wanted to take that high heel and stick it up his u know what. It’s upsetting when he has the potential to be a 10 and decides to only be a 5. But I like your opinion and I know Prince likes that you’ve given him 15 shows worth of $$$. 🙂

  • Cheryl Bianchi said,

    I have seen 3 of the Forum shows and I must say, each one so different that each nite was a groove..tho last nite, the 27th, was def the weakest…didn’t find the goove I’d seen before and the show was an hour shorter than the other 2 times…the 13th was pretty freeking astounding…Janelle Monae, Sheila E, some fantastic horn player (not Maceo) AND Stevie Wonder (for just a bit but still). I do not share your enthusiasm for Nikka, I’m afraid…and she really needs a dresser Yeesh…
    Funny, as Angela might attest, the other shows were not sold out, there was a real community vibe, he seemed exceptionally personable and sincerely seemed to want everyone to have a memorable nite…that he has 80% of the seats @$25 and NO ticketmaster, pound of flesh, service charge seems pretty generous to me…allows many to come who normally couldn’t and the multiple visits (almost everyone i spoke with had come at least once before) adds to the tribal feeling. I sat in the rafters and i sat 10 feet from the stage…both were cool but it was almost better to be farther back…i went with 4 people who had never seen Prince last nite and they were in ecstasy…so, ya know, he’s still making people happy. My theory on last nite was too many white people (of which i am!) who were not making a big enuff noise…he needs his juice! I have not seen 50 shows but have seen him over the years since he opened for the Stones (what year was that??)and was booed off stage! Always a treat for me…thanks for the set list…setlist.com hasn’t posted yet!

  • Cheryl Bianchi said,

    ps…and he rocked his gold pj1s!

  • rdhull said,

    Ya know what. Last night, the older woman who was brought onstage to dance and worked it was great. And how Prince had the entire arena stand and clap/cheer this woman was better than any bullshit Darling Niklki , Sexy Mutherfuker shit he did in the past imo.

  • Krystina said,

    From one hardcore fan to another, that was extremely well-said, G.

  • Gail said,

    Great Pics, G! I saw Prince in concert only once, at MSG here in NYC. John F Kennedy Jr (RIP) was sitting right next to me. The show was amazing!

  • Angela L said,

    Cheryl has a point about the past shows at the Forum…it was nice…more intimate…but very repetitive in songs…I wanna hear I Wish U Heaven, Extra Lovable, Elephants and Flowers, Rebirth Of The Flesh, Boom…anything that isn’t what we would EXPECT him to play. I just want the old Prince I remember when I would see him LIVE in an intimate stage where he would just ROCK and not give a fuck about what the critics said…he just played what he felt like that night. I miss it. But…then again…I still come to see what he will play. There is still the excitement I get when I see him live…I just want to be surprised! And I bring people who haven’t seen the shows and they LOVE it…it’s nice to get them into Prince….but then again, where is the loyalty to the ones who have been here for years, like Geo, Krystina, and other P fans I know. We went to the Celebrations in MPLS and travelled miles to see him live….we want to see the obscure music being played again…that’s all we ask. Not much.

  • Krystina said,

    I agree with you, Ang — After having been to majority of the shows on this 21-night Run, I have to admit that I’ve became disenchanted with the “safe” setlist early on. To quote on what you said earlier, It’s all very reminiscent of Musicology — being able to identify the next song even before it even begins…know exactly what he’ll say and do because its what he did 9 shows ago and every show since.

    It’s gotten so I’m expecting the same show over and over…and what I’m really paying the ticket price for is that ONE random song HE MIGHT play if he finds himself inspired to pull out of thin air. Yes, he’s got to cater to the casual fans…but a good percentage of his audience are hardcore fans that would absolutely pass out if he pulled out a bootleg or some rare song he either has never played live before or hasn’t played in the last 20 years. If I hear that ONE song? Or even part of an obscure song mixed into a “hit” — then the show becomes worth it to me somehow.

    The man has so many songs — some which have never seen the light of day. As G said before, I’m sure Prince himself is a bit sick of playing his hits night after night. As far as teaching his band new songs? Anyone who’s been to an impromptu jam session knows his band members are always seasoned artists themselves who only need to hear something once to be able to play it almost flawlessly. Personally, I’d rather hear a twisted, flawed version of Tambourine (for example) because the band is unfamiliar with it than a perfect version of Take Me With You — YET AGAIN.

  • Jimi D said,

    I’m a long time fan who has never seen Prince live until this year. I’m 37, I was 8 when I first heard the 1999 album and 10 when Purple Rain came out, so I’ve grown up with Prince in my life. While I can understand the die-hards who have seen him too many times to count, for people like me these shows are dreams coming true. I am glad he’s playing classic material that everyone else else has heard ad nauseum, because I’m not sick of them yet. I’m starving for it! I’ve seen lots of other bands live but Prince puts them all to shame. And never in my life have I paid $25 flat for floor seats in ANY large venue. I’m going for my third show tonight!

  • Cheryl Bianchi said,

    you have to admit him doing More Than This was a surprise! The older lady last night was a gas!! I love how he honors women…from his players to his audience…none are the skinny,modelly types and yet they ooze sexy…in part because he seems to exalt them…that woman last night will never forget her experience getting down with the P-man…she happened to come right by us after the show as we were taking some pix and she jumped right in!! so cute…she was high as a kite…and what about that first black chick…she had some moves…u gotta take it as a whole…i’m with you rdhull!

  • daale said,

    Does anyone know if the Sunday night (5/29) show is sold out? It will be my fourth. And, while I sare a lot of the conerns about Prince’s set list, I’m bringing my kids (ages 8 and 10) and they generally know the hits.

  • Angel So Divine said,

    Love it!!! So honest and true. Of course G and I differ on the religion things at times, but I agree so much with alot of what he said. U took the words right out of my mouth, brutha. People (some prince fans) think I’m a Prince hater since… I don’t go to every single show he’s been doing, nor do I rant about what an amazing show it was after seeing the same thing after the 3rd time. Last night was my 6th time and Yeeup, G is right. I took my bathroom break during Purple Rain. Everytime I went to the W2A shows, the setlist was predictable. You knew what was coming next. From the darling nikki/nasty girls tease, to the kiss booty dance, to Don’t stop till u get enough heading into C.O.O.L. to every hit he did back at the L.A. “04 staples center show. Yes, the reason why I’m so bitchy about it all IS because I was there at the arms distance shows where I only paid $20 to see Prince play songs like Love thy will be done, 18 and ova, etc. G is so right about the fans who have stuck by Prince through it all, wanting to hear the songs that the bandwagon fans couldn’t even tell u the title to, let alone sing along with the lyrics, or know when it was written. For instance…..U got the right one baby, or Schoolyard. I’d die if he did his version of Baby, Baby, Baby/I hurt myself. Prince, if u read this, I’m not hating. I thank u for giving us at least this much, but we are the ones who partied with u after hours in the Glam Slam restaraunt and got to hear songs like P control before it even came out, along with all these b-sides and boots u played in the wee hours of the morning. When u play these gems, I’ll be waiting for my personal invitation for not being a ButtKisser and honest. I remember not getting home till 7am from Glam Slam, watching the sunrise as I drove home.

  • Honey1998 said,

    Prince did his thang and continues to do his thang!! People change as we get older I hd an absolutlly great time. Whatever u got for $25 u got a treat! And he’s bringing guest artist !
    Stop all the hatin and enjoy the moment. Life is too short for all this judgement going on.

    Ps – he was all that !!

  • Sha-Sha said,

    WORD!

    I think you just can’t go in expecting. Ever in life really…that’s when you get disappointed and let down. And look all you making your comments about the days of old all still went to get your groove on. Hopefully you did. love and light.

  • Dorothy Parker said,

    He was all that!!!…..let me see any of you rock the Forum at 52 (almost 53) like he did. If you know anything about Prince I think it would be that he will do what he wants to do on his terms not yours and hey that’s what you like about him. Right?? Why would you ever think that what you want would be his concern during his show. And maybe one day he will still surprise you and do some song “out of thin air” that you would love to hear or maybe you should count your blessings that you got that the times you did and be satisfied. Even if he didn’t perform what you wished he had you can’t say that he didn’t perform because he and the whole band are non- stop, feel good energy ALL night long. That is A LOT of (pretty much back to back) shows he did here in LA. One night of dancing tires me out, so I can’t imagine being him putting out all that energy for us to have a good time for all those shows. It not like he is up there picking his nose while he sings. Dollar signs in his eyes??? Not sure how you can say that when ticket prices were almost all $25 or $55 from the box office. Take your water break whenever you want to….Purple Rain is still a beautiful song and all your favorites you can listen to on your own time. No one can take that away from you. Hope you learn to accept what you are given and to appreciate it all. Peace

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