Review: Prince at the ORACLE ARENA in Oakland 3/4/16

“Piano & A Microphone”

Prince was in town recently — my hometown — which always makes it even more special. He gave Oakland three shows total (not including the after party/show). I wrote a review for the first two shows on February 28th (and also for the Paisley Park shows in January) so thought I should be thorough by writing a review for this show as well. It will be short. Let’s just get down to business shall we? The fact that he can do three shows back to back within a few days, all by himself and have all three shows be completely different is incredible. Also, the fact that he can go anywhere in this big huge world that he desires, and here he was in Oakland, well that was very heartwarming. I believe that collectively gave Oakland a good feeling deep inside.

Prince also attended the Warriors game at the Oracle the day before his Oracle show. He received a standing ovation from the Warriors themselves as he strolled over to his courtside seats with his date, Damaris Lewis. Hallways were lit up with purple lighting. Twitter and Facebook exploded. I read a tweet that cracked me up: “I’m always excited when I see Prince do regular people sh** like go to a basketball game but still be so Prince about it.” (CBear on Twitter). Well said! Of course the Warriors won that night. Oakland couldn’t have been happier. Yet another Warriors win and Prince was in town?! It was all just too good!

3/4/16 Oracle Arena – Purple lights for the evening of Prince’s show
Warriors game 3/3/2016
Gliding into the Warriors game on Thursday 3/3/2016. The “Prince Gait” in full effect!

Ok, so back to review: This last show was also extraordinary. Prince walked out and onto a large empty stage with only a piano and microphone (and a few candles) and for the next few hours, seemingly effortlessly, he blew the minds of roughly 20,000 people. He managed to somehow make the inside of a huge arena feel extremely intimate. Almost as intimate as the previous shows he had just done on a much smaller scale. How can someone pull that off? Well, Prince is not just ‘someone’. I guess that’s the simple answer. I imagined him days before the Oracle show just casually mentioning during conversation over breakfast, or maybe while picking out his afro while relaxing and watching TV , “Yeah, so anyway, the Paramount shows the other day were cool, the 3,000 people seemed to really dig it. It was pretty intimate. I guess I’ll go on ahead and share this with 20,000 people now. I’ll be generous and give them ‘almost’ three full days notice to get their tickets to fill the arena. They’ll know to assemble their crews. It will be full. It will be intimate. Hand me the remote. This channel bores me. ” And then three days later he showed up at the arena and blew everyone away. And yes, people scrambled to get tickets. Yes it was full. Yes it was intimate.

I love Prince’s music. I love his brain for creating the music. I love Prince’s hands. I love Prince’s fingers. I love his hands and fingers together (that sounded weird…). I love the veins that run up his hands and into his arms and eventually to his brilliant and mysterious brain. I love how smooth he touches the keys (or guitar strings in other instances) to bring the music to life. So did close to 20,000 other people on Friday night. People from all walks of life. People of all ages. People from many different backgrounds. My friend and his wife brought his 80 year old Aunt. I also saw some very young children, couldn’t have been older than 8 or so. There’s no way to try and gauge the audience of a Prince show. Ever.

His voice was indescribable so I won’t even try — but the word ‘perfect’ kind of explains it. I was glad 20,000 people were there to hear it. He had the audience under his spell as usual. If his instructions were to ‘clap’ for instance, the entire arena did just that, and promptly. The Jumbotron’s close-ups of his hands and fingers going to work on those keys were flat out dangerous. People weren’t ready! They may not have known how to handle it! It was overwhelming and I hope no one forgot to breathe. I hope no one hyperventilated. I hope no one fainted. I hope everyone is ok! Seeing him do what he does up-close like that is somethin’ else, let me tell you. It’s deep. His music and his delivery of it was intoxicating. Prince’s hands and fingers are excruciatingly beautiful. I hope that makes sense to you. Prince has as much talent – if not more – in his pinky finger, as a Duodecet (no offense to any large group of seasoned musicians, I’m sure you are great too!).

I know we all know what music sounds like but if you want to know what it looks like, I can tell you. It currently has an afro, likes the color purple and wears light-up shoes on occasion.

Being that these shows consisted of nothing but Prince and his piano, him singing the song Purple Music was so fitting:

“Don’t need no reefer, don’t need cocaine, purple music does the same to my brain. And I’m high, so high…

Don’t need no cymbals, no saxophone, just need to find me a style of my own. And I’m high, so high…”

The way that Prince controls, commands and captivates an audience is so impressive. It reminds me of his song ‘Private Joy’… “If anybody asks you, you belong to Prince!” If he had sung those lyrics on Friday, would anyone in the audience have objected? Oh, I think not.

The show had to come to an end at some point (sadly), but not without three encores first. The piano rotated for each encore which was awesome. Everyone in the arena got to see a part of the show from a different angle. It also gave those watching the stage intently (a.k.a. ‘Prince-encore-experts-that-don’t-leave-before-it’s-really-over’ people)a heads up that he was coming back out. We’d see the piano start to rotate and we knew! He’s coming back out again!

After the show was over, on their way out the doors, everyone received a free copy of his new CD, Hit N Run Phase II! How awesome is that? Thank you, Prince.

Tiny side note, while speaking of looks. I gotta get this off of my chest no matter how shallow it may make me seem. I simply have to. The position and/or shadows from the lighting on his face were deceiving at times. Anyone that has been up close to Prince or even sort of up close to him or even way across the room or down the street from him KNOWS for an undeniable fact that his skin and face is as smooth and creamy and silky as butter. Soft as a new born baby’s booty. Imagine dipping your fingers in cornstarch and then rubbing them together… that smoothness is what his face is equivalent to. SERIOUSLY. Yes he has regular wrinkles (albeit barely) because he is 57 years old and not all Hollywood-face-lift about it, but I just felt the lighting and shadows during various points were a poor representation of what his face and special skin truly looks like. Period. Just so you know! I had to speak my mind about that (others noticed this also). Ok, rant over. He’s gorgeous, his skin is gorgeous and I’m picky about weird lighting.

In summary: Prince, his music, his delivery, his showmanship, his skills, his way of making thousands of people in a huge venue hang on intensely to every single little note he played and sang… well it was all just magnificent. He’s magnificent! The end.

My friend Sarah took this photo only AFTER the show was completely over. Encores and all! We abode by your rules Prince, don’t worry! House lights on, show over, but still… no one wanted to leave. Look at that crowd!

Oh! Almost the end! After the show, Prince left the Oracle and headed over the bridge to San Francisco’s Great American Music Hall. No big deal… ya know, people stood in the rain for a few hours in the middle of the night… in a line that wrapped around three blocks. Nothin’ major about that, right? A few hundred very fortunate people finally made their way in and danced the night away. Bay Area DJ Pam The Funkstress was in the house tearing it up. Word is that Prince requested her specifically (for the second time during his Bay Area visit). Perfect fit! Prince casually took the stage throughout the night, singing songs for us, DJing, playing drums and stuff. No biggie. He shared himself with us until about, oh… 4am, that’s all (I don’t think the man sleeps. And when he comes to town, neither do we). My cousin and my sisters and I seriously got our Prince fix. Prince, in a small room with a few hundred people, all up in our faces, smiling, laughing, hyping the crowd up, getting frisky by doing songs like Darling Nikki and what not, that’s all. Nothin’ to get all worked up about people…

Yeah right…. AAAAAGGGGHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!! Ok, the end.

Only part of the Official After Party line that stretched three blocks. This was near the end, on Olive Street. It wrapped around to Polk Street, and then finally to O’Farrell Street. Photo taken at approximately 1AM.
Inside of The Great American Music Hall, San Francisco (not from the night of the after party). Photo credit: Great American Music Hall Twitter @GMAH
The marquee

Set list (as usual, forgive me for any imperfections on order of songs, etc.):

Somewhere Over the Rainbow (instrumental)
Somewhere Here on Earth
Rock N Roll Love Affair
Little Red Corvette / Dirty Mind
I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man
The Ballad of Dorothy Parker
I Would Die 4 U
Baby I’m a Star
Purple Music
Dear Mr.Man
Waiting In Vain (Bob Marley) / If I Was Your Girlfriend
How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
Raspberry Beret
Starfish and Coffee
Paisley Park
Sometimes it Snows in April
Purple Rain
Black Sweat
Diamonds and Pearls
The Beautiful Ones
A Place In Heaven
Venus De Milo
Condition of the Heart
Under the Cherry Moon
Nothing Compares 2 U
When Doves Cry
Free Urself
Thieves In The Temple
I wanna Be Your Lover
Do Me Baby

Set list from After Party: (I cannot recall the exact order of some songs near the end)

Hot Thing

A Love Bizarre
When Doves Cry
Sign O’ the Times
Nasty Girl (instrumental)
I Would Die 4 U
Darling Nikki
The X’s Face (beginning, instrumental part… dragged on for a bit. YES!!! SUPER FUNKY!)
Alphabet Street
777–9311 (Prince jumped on the drums)
Take Me With U

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