From Larry Aydlette: This is the review former Palm Beach Post writer Charles Passy did of Prince‘s April 25, 2004 concert at the now B B & T Center in Sunrise. It was a joyous evening that ended with a stream of purple confetti falling from the rafters as Prince wailed on his guitar in that way only the the greatest can do. For years, I had my piece of purple relic hanging on my office wall. I wish I still did. RIP, Prince.
Photos, remembrances, coverage: Prince dead at 57
BY CHARLES PASSY
What a difference a decade makes.
When Prince played South Florida sometime in the mid-’90s, he was an artist searching for an identity. It wasn’t just that he had temporarily changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol. It’s that his performance was little more than an evening of unchecked egotism packaged with a few funky songs.
The Prince who played the Office Depot Center Sunday night still had no shortage of swagger, but this time, his personality was fully wedded with his music, a joyous mix of R&B, rock, pop, soul and just about anything he could pull out of his hat – in this case, a red fedora – including snippets of Elvis and Outkast. The result was a heady evening, equal parts concert, worship service and dance party.
Yes, Prince is back. And he’s rediscovered his inner, well, Prince.
Indeed, the first 50 minutes of the near sold-out concert were about the most combustible bit of music-making this reviewer has ever heard, next to a Springsteen show. Prince opened with the lively title cut of his new album, Musicology, but it became immediately apparent that he wasn’t interested in delivering the songs, so much as delivering an improvisational experience.
Dressed in a sharply cut white suit, Prince worked with his band – the aptly titled New Power Generation – so that grooves became virtual rhythm fests. At times, he sang; at other times, he played electric guitar. But oddly enough, he was at his most powerful when he simply occupied the stage, moving his diminutive self to the kinetic pulse of the music. For Prince, the beat will set you free.
And so it continued as he played some of his older, familiar material, including a version of Let’s Go Crazy that had the makings of a wicked global jam. In nearly ever song, an always smiling Prince shared the spotlight withy a member of his group: Saxophonist Candy Dulfer was a special standout, but there wasn’t a bad apple in this bunch.
Then, as the show reached its fever pitch, Prince went the “unplugged” route, brandishing an acoustic guitar and singing – often in a marvelous, unadorned falsetto – revealing versions of songs better known in beefed-up renditions. Little Red Corvette, in particular, took on the crushing texture of a confessional folk tune.
Before the night was over, Prince was back in his full-glory mode. But these days, full glory is fully merited. At one point, Prince teased the ecstatic crowd about being “high on life.” But the stimulant in this case was Prince himself.