The big event of my weekend, hell of my whole summer, will be seeing Prince in concert tomorrow night at Target Center in Minneapolis. Ooh, it's gonna be funky!
The first time I saw Prince perform live was September 15, 1988. (I have since learned that a precocious young Jimbo was at that same concert. Who knows, maybe I eyed him in the men's room...) It was the opening night of the LoveSexy tour in the USA, the first big arena tour Prince had done since the Purple Rain extravaganza several years before. The media coverage was insane, and old Met Stadium (long since demolished to make room for the accursed Mall of America) was crawling with media--MTV, Entertainment Tonight, all those guys.
The stars had turned out to see His Royal Badness, too. Seated in the VIP section were Janet Jackson, Heart (gag), George Clinton, and Patty Labelle, to name just a few. When I was standing in line at the drinking fountain during intermission, I realized with a start that the wizened gremlin in line behind me was none other than Miles Davis. He looked like human jerky wearing a fedora.
The show that night was beyond phenomenal, but somehow Prince managed to better his performance the following evening, perhaps because he was over any (previously undetectable) opening night jitters. I had managed to snag tickets for the ridiculously low price of $11, and the seats for night two were great. I had a killer sore throat and a fever that night, but I went to the show anyway, and I sang and danced for three hours. I couldn't utter a sound for the next two days, but it was worth it.
Since those two memorable nights in 1988, I have seen Prince in concert just six more times. That really isn't a very impressive tally, considering that I lived within twenty miles of him for a decade. When I was in college at Macalester, back in the late 80's, Prince liked to perform impromptu gigs at First Avenue to try out new material. I never managed to make it to one of those shows, though some of my pals did. (Too bad that in their mad dash to catch a bus into Minneapolis they forgot to call me. Ah, but time heals all wounds. Plus, he only played three hours that night, and seeing pictures of the concert in Rolling Stone's next issue did nothing to convince me that I had missed something major.)
I did have one Close Encounter of the Purple Kind in those heady days. In March of 1987, when visiting First Avenue on a Thursday (Funk Night) I tripped on the crowded stairs and slammed into a petite, well coiffed, highly made-up person who turned out to be Prince. He wasn't permanently damaged, and I scampered away before his hulking bodyguards could mess me up.
The last time I went to a Prince show was in June of 2004, when I caught two nights of his Musicology tour here in St. Paul. Both shows were amazing, but I had a hard time enjoying them as much as I would have normally, because that was the summer my mother was losing her fight with cancer. She called me the day after the concert to ask how it had gone. I told her "He must have sensed I was there, because he put on quite a show."
Today I feel jittery and nervous, as I always do before seeing my little funk demi-god. Tomorrow I will compulsively check at least twenty times to make sure the concert tickets are where I left them, and I will be a nervous wreck until I'm sitting in my seat at Target Center, waiting for the house lights to go out.
Oh, and when they do...
Watch for a full report next week!
Your intrepid reporter,