Prince Brings the Energy… and the Security

Prince Concert

A photo my friend managed to sneak of the concert when audience members were invited on stage

Last night I had the opportunity to see the legendary Prince live twice in one night. Up until a few days ago I wasn’t going at all.

Tickets for the main show at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre were close to $200 each for the close seats and considering that’s two thirds the price of a 3 day festival and I’d seen Prince before at Coachella I was originally going to pass. A few days ago I was offered free tickets and that’s just something you don’t turn down. Then came the announcement that Prince was going to perform at an after party at Sugar Nightclub. Tickets for that could have been $100+ and I would have paid.

Now, I’m not a huge Prince fan. I’m not completely familiar with his large catalog of songs except for his hits. So the first 15-20 minutes of the main show I didn’t really recognize the songs performed. But that didn’t matter because the energy him and his band dish out is crazy. The main set was almost an hour and a half and they played literally non-stop. There were no breaks between songs. One song flowed right into the next. The band has stamina. So from a show standpoint it was incredible. It was hilarious watching when some of the VIPs were invited on stage that some were just enjoying dancing on stage so much they totally failed to even notice Prince was within in arms reach.

A couple things that spoiled the experience for me personally though. First, there was a middle aged lady standing at the seat next to me who was a non-stop “Clappy McScreamer.” 80% of the concert she was either clapping or screaming or both. Even through the more mellow songs. I’m happy she’s a hardcore fan having the time of her life… I was surprisingly okay with the screaming… but the incessant clapping was driving me nuts. There were times where NO ONE in the building was clapping, but this lady would randomly clap. Seriously? You can’t enjoy a concert without clapping constantly?

The other thing that bugged me was just how ridiculous security was. I’ve heard all about how strict Prince is about cameras, but wow… witnessing it first-hand was bizarre. I have never been to a concert were there’s been almost no flashes going off and I’ve never been to one where it felt like you could be tackled by a pack of security people for sneezing. I was sitting front row in one of the lower bowl sections of the arena right by the stairs and seeing uniformed people marching to any sight of light that might be an LCD screen was distracting.

I got my camera in, but I didn’t pull it out once. There was no way in hell I was going to be able to get any footage. Not with where I was sitting and not with every single security person’s number one priority being to stop cameras.

So those two things prevented me from enjoying the show as much as I should have considering what was happening on stage.

Prince Afterparty

poster saved from Sugar Nightclub's Facebook page

I enjoyed the after party more than the main concert. Maybe it was because of the more relaxed and intimate vibe of a nightclub setting and the fact you felt like you were part of something really special. Just about anyone can see a big music star at an arena show, but to see one in a club? That’s pretty much a once in a lifetime thing. I really don’t think you can talk to anyone who was in attendance that wasn’t blown away by the after party. Unless of course they got caught by the “maglight brigade” and either got kicked out or had their phone/camera confiscated.

There were spotters at the front and in the upper level of the club that would shine the high powered flashlights at anyone who dare put their phone or camera up like a police helicopter shining a spotlight on a perp in a police chase. Again, distracting… but despite that the afterparty was one of the most amazing moments of my concert-going life. Here’s a legendary guitar player performing 20 feet away from me in a nightclub until 3:30am (a full hour after nightclubs in Victoria legally have to be shut down normally) and on top of that you have another legend in saxophonist Maceo Parker in the mix. A huge thank you goes out to Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin (who was in attendance) and the Victoria Police for allowing Sugar Nightclub to stay open an extra hour.

Summing it up, I seriously disagree with Prince’s stand on camera policy and probably won’t go to anymore of his shows because of it… but I also felt his two performances (especially the afterparty) were incredible can’t miss once in a lifetime events.

Be sure to check out The Times Colonist’s Mike Devlin’s review of the concert. He had the benefit of being in box seating so there probably were less security staring in his direction: