Prince Air Canada Centre, Toronto ON - July 28, 2004
Published Sep 01, 2004That our ever-elusive, newly hometown boy Prince should roll in for not one night but two to deliver a lesson in musicology to his Toronto fans was a treat to anticipate, especially under the threat of Prince performing his hits for the last time ever (at least under this name). But what of the threat that Prince had decided, midway through a multi-month tour, to clean up his set and not be that racy, raunchy Prince of the past but instead the Jehovah Prince of today? Sitting through Nelly Furtado's unannounced, canned, but inoffensive set only heightened the tension. (There was no way Prince was going to take the stage in any way other than rising from the centre of the floor in a cloud of smoke, right?) Amid the confetti and purple streamers, Prince and his New Power Generation (featuring sax great Maceo Parker and stunning caped drummer John Blackwell) stormed through more than two hours of hits, new songs, purple smoke and costume changes. (That Prince sure has a lot of nice pajamas!) While playing a medley of much of Purple Rain might kind of count as "playing the hits," the "hooked on Prince" nature of it felt more disappointing than gratifying. Other hits got more time, as did a startlingly long jazz/noise cover of "Whole Lotta Love," which went on for 15 minutes while Prince readied his next outfit. At some point a pizza was delivered to the stage (perhaps as some part of a sponsorship with the arena) and after half an hour Prince begrudgingly handed it out to the crowd, but they ate it up with far less enthusiasm than they did his teasing sing-along acoustic deliveries of "Cream" and "Raspberry Beret." Ultimately, the Man in Purple (who deferred his final ovation to the man upstairs) did keep the set mostly clean, but he didn't deprive his fans of the love, sex and sweat they came to be a part of.