Is a Prince Concert the Most Self-Indulgent Show of All Time?
By Jo Piazza Posted Jan 20th 2011 08:00PM
We've seen it happen with stars like Madonna and Elton John and now, though he has admittedly always seen himself as something apart, Prince has joined their pantheon.
It became clear that this week's Prince concert at Madison Square Garden would be one of the most self-indulgent exercises in funk and pop history when the performer took the stage wearing a shirt with his own face silk-screened upon it.
That stage was no ordinary stage, mind you. It was the "love symbol" -- you remember the one that Prince created and for a brief stint changed his name to.
So he had a shirt of his face, on a stage in the shape of his name. That would be enough, except that it wasn't.
Throughout the show Prince peppered his phrases with all kinds of self-love rhetoric. During 'Cream,' he said, "I wrote this song while looking in the mirror," and during a medley of slow songs, "Somebody's gonna get pregnant tonight." That last one was likely true, judging from the number of couples making out in the aisles.
At the age of 52, Prince deserves to love himself this much. Hell, if I can rock out for two-and-a-half hours of constant hip thrusts, cartwheels and high notes in my fifties, I might silk screen my face onto my shirt.
And there was no lack of star power paying homage at the alter of Prince. That was indeed Jimmy Fallon and Mos Def dancing onstage. And yes, 'Gossip Girl' Leighton Meester was balanced on a tuffet and serenaded by the little purple one.
Vulture hit the nail on the head when they said a Prince show has become immensely overstaged, but in a way that we, the audience, have come to expect and ultimately enjoy.
"It is, by necessity, a very showbiz and stagey thing. Not like 'Purple Rain' stagey but like Super Bowl Halftime stagey, awards-ceremony stagey. That's Prince's job, obviously. The show feels mostly like a lavish celebration of the fact that you're at a Prince show; if you cease to be amazed by that fact for too long, you might start regretting that a lot of lithe, precise songs come off in this context as really broad and bombastic."
The difference between Prince today and the Prince of 10 years ago is that he seems like he is finally in on the joke. Gone are the days when he changed his name to a made up symbol in a non-ironic way. The irony of 2011 Prince makes him tolerable. It's all too much, and we love him for it. But he definitely loves himself more.
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