Thursday, January 27, 2011

For the Cheap Seats in the Back

(This post doesn't have any pictures or videos or links, it just has the magic of seeing Prince in concert. For the second time.) Five years ago, my mom got tickets for us to see him in Boston. We were no more than 15 rows from the stage, and if I squinted, I could see Prince's sweat glisten under the lights. I lost my voice from screaming.

Last week, my boyfriend and I climbed all the way to the very top of Madison Square Garden. On Christmas, when I opened the box that had the envelope holding the tickets, my mom waited for me to stop gasping and jumping before she said, "they're nosebleeds, so don't get too excited." I couldn't care less. "I'll just bring my binoculars." The best thing about a Prince concert, though, is that the energy is so electric, actually seeing the show can become secondary. I spent parts of the concert with my eyes closed and my face titlted upwards, belting lyrics.

The thing is, I didn't rush to buy concert tickets when I heard he was going on tour again because I didn't want to remember how much of his show is cleaned up. I live with the image of Purple Rain Prince, raunchy and arrogant in tight purple pants, Graffiti Bridge Prince, with long hair and wildly colorful outfits, or Dirty Mind Prince, an oversexed, nearly naked powerhouse. Five years ago I hoped against all hope he might ask Jehovah's forgiveness and sing "Darling Nikki" anyway. Because while Prince is and will always be an incredible performer, the Musicology tour was squeaky clean. I regretted not geting tickets when I read in the New York Times that this time around, Prince got off his moral high horse and performed wicked slowburners like "Insatiable" (full disclosure: "Insatiable" is on my boo-lovin playlist). But then my mom came to the rescue and I lost my voice again. I teared up during "Adore". It was so good, so physically satisfying that the next day I forgot he didn't perform "When Doves Cry".

I told my boyfriend I would spend the rest of my life chasing that high. I meant to be funny but I was partly serious. Prince shows you exactly how a concert in an enormous stadium should be. But the thing is, I can't say without a doubt that I'll rush to Ticketmaster for the next tour, if there is a next tour. On the JumboTron and through my binoculars, I could see his makeup looked a bit thick and chalky, that his cheeks were sinking in and he was developing a tiny bit of a turkey neck. In your 50s, these things happen, of course, and his ass is still tiny and perfectly round. But Prince's music, for me, at least, has always been about the beautiful exuberance of youth; Prince makes me feel like I can do anything, can put on and take off personae as easily as a studded leather jacket. The energy is still there when he performs, trust me. He still has moves even if he doesn't do splits. And while I'll never stop looking for his records at stoop sales, I can't watch him get old.

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