If purple is the colour of royalty … anyone who was anyone was out at the violet infused Aotea Centre, Auckland last night to see the King of sexy funk himself –Prince.
It really was like being invited to ‘court’. There we stood, sheep in our yellow PRINCE wristbands frocked and ready. Well I wasn’t frocked, but Aja Rock was, a mini mini cream lace shift over a scrap of a skin coloured slip. Beside her a bevy of dark haired beauties and black t shirted men. I’m sure I saw that guy who used to be married to Mrs Auckland, Sally Ridge. He was talking to a guy with one of those severely shorn sided moptops, white trainers, jeans and oddly - black tails. It was thin pickings, but then that ginga cowboy comedian glanced in my direction and smirked. Blonde hair always catches the light.
Once seated I scanned the circle. No one notable. Beside me a cheerful lady from the Tron and her friend from Waiheke, who’d teased her long black hair into a fro and was asked by the people seated behind her – not to move it. Beside The H was a lady from Christchurch who sensibly brought her opera glasses and wept at his closing ‘Nothing Compares to You’, almost hyperventilating. ‘I’m just channeling the moment,’ she said reassuring the aunties she wasn’t about to pass out.
But honestly to be part of an audience teased, serenaded and heralded into an endless choir of wonky backing vocalists, chorus after chorus was spellbinding. Should we really be here, I kept wondering while wishing the stupid lady in the row in front would take her loud conversation and her wine refills outside.
Prince was obviously enjoying himself. Tremendously. Sat on the edge of his padded piano stool his left hip splayed towards the audience, his zippy white shoes flashing their red Perspex wedge heels to the beat. ‘My Daddy gave me rhythm and his daddy gave him rhythm …’
I’m no fem music journo (they're aren’t many of them it seems) but boy can he play piano-like-guitar. Each note accompanying perfectly his almost alien wide and uber satisfying vocal range. Ahhhh, cream get on top. You don't have to be beautiful to turn me on.
As the show warmed, he jumped up and strutted, flexing his fingers, hand slapping those fortunate enough to be near the stage to actually see his face. There was no crass video screen in the acoustically intune ASB Theatre, this was a royal performance. We serfs in the circle were afforded his perfect purple bowl-shaped fro silhouette. It bounced and craned as he caressed note after note, off the lower left-hand wall.
‘The thing I love about music is no matter how your day has gone – you put some music on and everything is right,’ Prince the preacher man told us. ‘Self preservation,’ he repeated several times. ‘Look in the mirror and sing this song to yourself tonight!’
A bunch of at least 40 red roses wrapped in white card sat under his grand piano. During the show fans passed more bunches to officials. Some twits shouted, ‘Stop it’, with the emphasis on the stop, when he sang his sexy seductive bits. At times, I cringed and just hoped this room full of New Zealand would behave.
It really felt like a privilege to be there. It was a live in the moment moment. No selfies could we take. No scratchie recordings for the memory files. No even a pic of the stage unless you wanted a burly security guy's torch flashed in your face.
In one of umpteen encores he played Kiss. It sounded a whole lot better than the Love Sexy LP I’d been belting out at home annoying the cat and making the teenagers run for their rooms. I was thrilled I knew the lyrics. Prince even gyrated his tiny black lycra covered hips in a slow circular motion as he sang, ‘Maybe we could do the twirl.’ Swoon.
Prince may have once considered himself the king of lovers. So be it. I did love that wimpish stilettoed lady killer in high waisted pants as only a fan can, but I think I like his grown-up self more.
The Purple Prince of pop simply played-for-us. Wooed us with every pared back note. A twenty song, two and a half hour set. Sometimes with the house lights on when he wanted to see his court sway.
When he picked up his diamante cane we knew he’d finally finished.
‘We were here,’ I said to the aunties as the last of us filed out. ‘We were here.’