***Editor's note: This review of Prince's Dec. 8, 1997, concert at the Fargodome was written by Chuck Klosterman, then a Forum reporter.***
First of all, let's make one thing crystal clear: The man in the Fargodome last night was Prince. Not "The Artist," not TAFKAP, not his Royal Weirdness, and not some unpronounceable symbol that looks like a perverted treble clef. It was Prince, OK?
Now that we've cleared that up, I can move on to more pressing business-namely, the show itself. It was awesome. Prince is undeniably coo coo for Cocoa Puffs, but he's also a stunning tour de force.
Prince likes to call his current tour "The Jam of the Year," and-at least in terms of the Fargodome-it probably was. In a lot of ways, Prince displayed the best of every show that's come to the facility in 1997: He had the stage presence of Paul Stanley, the sexuality of Stevie Nicks, the spirituality of Bob Carlisle, and more unadulterated musical talent than Elton John and all four guys in Metallica combined.
However, there were some lumps along the way. To combat ticket scalping, Prince only announces his tour dates two weeks in advance and requires ticket buyers to get vouchers that can only be redeemed at the door. This proved to be a major inconvenience for everyone involved and kept the attendance at a paltry 7,114.
Things got more confusing at 8 p.m. That's when Prince was supposed to hit the stage. For 35 minutes, everyone waited. Finally, the music started-but it wasn't Prince. Instead, it was an aging funk band called Grand Central Station.
It's common for an opening act to be unfamiliar to its audience. However, this was the first major concert I've attended where the audience didn't even know there was going to be any opening act. Luckily, they were great: GCS is fronted by Larry Graham, former bassist for Sly & the Family Stone. He took the crowd through a surreal bass odyssey, punctuated by classics like "Everyday People" and "Thank You Falettinme Be Mice Elf Again."
Prince's set started just before 10 p.m. It was impossible to not be struck by his dwarf-like size; Prince weighs about 120 pounds (if he's soaking wet and holding a brick). However, he packs a mammoth musical punch.
Perhaps the best analogy for watching Prince perform is this: It's like watching Michael Jordan at the end of a close game. His physical grace and technical ability is almost frightening. At one point, he played a keyboard, a bass and a wicked guitar solo, all in a span of 60 seconds. He then broke into song, showed off some forgotten break dance moves, and finally simulated intercourse on his piano (which he also played brilliantly).
And-just in case you're wondering-he did play a lot of his old material. Last week, I heard many local people say they would have attended this show if it was still 1987. They blew it. I can't imagine it would have been any better.