When I first came to college I met a girl named “Karla with a K” who has since become my lifelong sidekick. Somehow, we find the fun in just about everything we do and can manage to laugh at just about any situation. One of the first things Karla introduced me to was the movie, Purple Rain. I can still remember her intensely waiving a cardboard VHS case with Prince on the cover declaring “My Favorite Movie”. I was embarrassed to tell her that I had never seen it and rightfully so. She laughed right up in my face exclaimed “Well, alrighty then, let’s do something about that”.
From that day on it became our own little version of a cult classic. We know every word, every phrase, every single hidden moment of that movie. We used to watch it while getting ready, after we got home from our shenanigans, on Sunday afternoons and just about every hour in-between. When we weren’t watching it we were quoting it. Let me tell you, Purple Rain quoted out of context and by two Minnesota girls with bad acting capabilities can be very confusing to outsiders, but we found it absolutely hysterical and did it often…still do. It is just the way that we do life.
Every once in awhile, Prince would pop in for a surprise concert at First Avenue so we would go and try to hunt him down. We would drive downtown with the top off of my junky convertible, drive up directly onto the curb in front of the club and yell out to the lingering crowd “Have you seen Prince!?” No one ever had but we still stalked him anyways.
We have seen him together a few times in concert and last year we had the chance to see Lisa, Wendy and the rest of the Revolution reunite at First Avenue. This is our thing. We are just in love with him. So when Karla heard that Prince was playing 6 surprise shows beginning last night at the Dakota Jazz Club, she sent me an immediate message. Oh we were so in.
It was all a grand plan, except the ticketing system went all awry. Tickets that were supposed to go on-sale at 11am gave alert that they would be available at 5:51p.m. When the Dakota Jazz Club realized their error they corrected it and tickets actually went on sale and sold out within minutes promptly at noon. We were shut out. Not ready to give up, we took to craigslist with pleas of “Please help us, biggest Prince fans ever” along with about 1,000 other people who had the same claim. No go. We were out. However, we are the two that used to repeatedly go hunting to find him on the street, we don’t ever give up that easily. It did not take much for us to finish each other’s sentences and decide that we WERE going to be there.
So last night, hopeful and full of a good attitude we decided we would go, wait outside of the club and beg…and if defeated, we would go enjoy a nice dinner, listen to Prince on the ride home and have a fun night, one way or another.
We arrived at the Dakota about an hour before the show was supposed to start. It was quiet and a few people were trickling in. After all, Prince never goes onstage on time, right?
Outside of the club was a big guy that looked somewhat distraught. “Do you have any extra tickets?” I asked. “No, I was hoping that you did” he replied just as I noticed the Prince emblem tattooed on his face, right up under his right eye like a teardrop. Oh this wasn’t going to be easy.
We headed inside anyway, after a moment of observation we made the quick decision that it was better to plead our case to the VIP check in. We did so with absolutely no hope. SOLD OUT. NO SEATS. WAIT OVER THERE IF YOU WANT TO. We took our place with 4 other hopefuls behind a half rigged rope amid a sea of long faces. There was a big guy with a jolly laugh, optimistic that he was going to make it in. There was a solo guy from Japan speaking broken English, he was visiting Minnesota for a sales meeting, had heard about the concert on the Internet and thought he would make a good honest try to see “The Prince”. There was a cool looking tall skinny guy who said he had friends in the band…and there was a woman dressed in camouflage with a big furry camo aviator hat that flapped on the sides of her ears.
A few moments after I took off my coat we were motioned to come over to the VIP table. $100 cash, Prince would donate it to charity, pay now and get in; there will be free drinks and a buffet for us waiting in the VIP room. We were headed to the show and not only that, we had VIP tickets! I looked at Karla and she said “WHAT! I have waited longer in line to get my kids a Squinkie House!” Somewhat in shock we put our VIP badges on and suddenly there were cameras in our faces by the local news stations and I was a babbling brook of drivel.
Just as we were getting settled and speculating about how late Prince would take the stage, drummer Ronald Brummer seemingly popped out of nowhere and began his first drum solo of the evening. We were not allowed to have our cell phones and mine was hidden safely in the bowels of my bra, so after a quick look at our new friend from Japan’s gargantuan watch dial, we determined it was exactly 8p.m. Well the drummer must be going to play for awhile we wondered aloud, but not 2 minutes in here comes Prince wearing a camel colored poncho, skinny pants, round Purple Rain glasses and his trademark heels. He sat down at his keyboard and as we cheered to greet him he pointed right at Karla and I, smiled and shook his head. I swear at that very moment I became impregnated with his baby.
He played for about an hour and a half. Never uttered a single word. Just amazing, deep, soulful jazz music—real music, unique sound, undeniably Prince. 10 gifted musicians took their place in the band, he motioned them around with a quick shatter of his finger or a simple look out the corner of his eye and they obeyed his every wish as if transfixed by a spell after breathing in his secret potion. The brass band did a quick march all around the club as if to bring us onto the stage and into their instruments. “Do you think he is going to sing?” we wondered aloud. It was clearly foreplay. He had no intention of singing. He was mastering the art of delivering an expressive performance and leaving us wanting more. He poked fun of himself hinting of his hit songs for only a moment, interrupting a slow romantic acoustic set with snippets of thunder and recordings of him screeching out in his trademark cry. Oh how it was amazing. I could have sat right there in that very spot for the next several years of my life and I still wouldn’t have gotten tired of it.
I heard a young kid on the news saying how he was disappointed because he thought that he was going to play his old hits. Really? Did you really think he would do that? Because Prince never plays his old hits anymore—he doesn’t have to. This was a jam session, advertised as a sound check and people clamored for a spot just to stand in the same room with him. He isn’t Madonna, with her jacked up ticket prices and sold out arenas, he is Prince and Prince does what he wants when he wants and he doesn’t explain any of it. If you love music you cannot deny his talent, it is immense, it is powerful, it is transcending. He is simply the best musician in the entire world.
I am still in a daze today…finding myself wishing he would come to my house and do push-ups on my kitchen table while singing about doves crying and raspberry berets. I am aware that that makes absolutely no sense, but yet this is exactly what I like about him. He could have sold out Target Center within minutes if he had wanted to, but no… Prince chose to play a last minute instrumental jam to a crowd of a few hundred people in a dark smooth jazz club on a Wednesday night. Random, untamed and all about the music.
Till we meet again.
- Sara Savoy
Rave un2 the joy fantastic - Prince