Prince is truly one of a kind. After performing a nigh-on 3 hour show to a sold-out Boondall Entertainment Centre last Friday night, he headed across town to West End venue, The Hi-Fi to play one of his infamous "afterjams".
As is customary with these shows, the location is secret up until the last minute - I only found out where it was through a friend who just happened to be checking his emails at 8:30 on a Friday night. The email pleaded not to start lining up until 10:30 so, naturally, we arrived at 9:30, only to find a couple hundred people already lined up outside.
It was a long 3 hour wait before they opened the doors at 12:30 (to their credit, the staff had to pack up a wrestling stage from the "Brawls 'N' Burlesque" show on beforehand). The relief I felt once finally making it inside was like finding a misplaced passport just before an overseas flight.
Relief was soon replaced by anticipation and he had the whole place writhing with it, as we waited for over an hour for The Purple One to start. This was hardly irritating, in fact, everybody was dancing to the immaculately mixed DJ set of classic (but not obvious) 80s tracks (including Vanity 6 - Nasty Girl and Cameo - Word Up) blasting through the speakers.
The set was better than any 80s DJ set I've ever heard and was almost worth the $100 ticket price alone. Days later I found out that this delay was due to Prince himself meticulously sound-checking every instrument.
After hours of building anticipation, Prince felt no need for an elaborate stage introduction. Instead, in the middle of a song (it kills me that I can't remember which song it was!) the curtains suddenly open and there he is front-and-centre with his band, The New Power Generation all actually playing the song!
They continued to play what seemed like a constant stream of brilliant songs - the ones that sound so familiar, yet you have no idea where/if you've heard them before. There was no Kiss. There was no Purple Rain. However, one single he did play was early-career funk workout, Controversy.
Another highlight was his cover of the classic Chaka Khan song, Ain't Nobody. As if his flawless musicianship wasn't enough, His Purpleness was extremely charismatic as well, constantly addressing the crowd and even encouraging audience participation a number of times.
I heard from a member of his touring party that, after all this, he was asking "where the live gigs at?" Keep in mind it was 4am. And he's 54.
One of a kind.
Urban List Update: For the super fans, you can check out the full tracklist for the Prince Afterjam at The Hi-Fi courtesy of Purple House.
(Image Source: Sam Zabell)