Erica came over, dressed in all purple. We made drinks, listened to Prince, and I put on an all-purple outfit as well. We met up with Tom at Penn Station and shortly the three of us were on a train on our way New Jersey to see this man that we had been looking forward to seeing for a good month or so. And I was so insanely giddy, was quite drunk from pre-gaming with Erica, and I was going to see this man whose music I love so much, this man who totally blows my mind with every aspect of his being, with his assuredness, with his weird accepted place in popular culture despite his freakiness and failure to conform to accepted gender roles for men, especially for straight men, the fun that this man has with dancing, and aside from all these secondary aspects to the music, there is the primary thing, the thing that allows all these other things, this man's incredible talent on just about every instrument ever, this man's incredible song writing skills, and whatever alchemical quality it is that makes a song good that this man seems to have a wizard's power over.
There were some opening female jazz singers that I had never heard of, and who were quite amazing, but who I didn't really want to hear at that particular moment, who no one really seemed to be that interested in hearing. We came for party music, for sex jams, and while everyone was mostly polite and recognized the talents of these opening singers, most people continued on with their conversations, awaiting the main event, this serving as mostly background music.
After they finished their sets, it was Prince's turn. He came on stage. I jumped to my feet, everyone did. I barely remember what happened. I can't even describe it. I was on another planet of glee, being able to see this man strut around the stage, pick up instruments, and sing and dance. He could have played any songs and I would have been so into them. His voice sounded so good. I knew every song word-for-word but maybe two or three. He charged through his set, playing big hits as medleys, which probably allowed him to play more songs before IZOD Center's curfew hit, but which I was wished he wouldn't have done. My one complaint really, and a small one. I like his extended songs. I want to hear talented musicians that I adore take their time with the material, work it out, show off a bit, and indulge in the song's themes.
"Nothing Compare 2 U" might have been the most gorgeous moment of the night, because it was played slow and played beautifully, the words sang heartfelt, breaking mine. Oh my god, what a gorgeous song, and one that I was not expecting to be on the night's setlist at all, a total and beautiful surprise.
A few songs later came "She's Always in My Hair." I recognized it immediately and jumped to my feet and lost my mind. The song did not inspire a similar reaction in everyone around me, which frustrated me a bit that it was only really big hits that brought this crowd to its feet. This is why shows at stadiums are always disappointing in some way, that the energy is never anything close to what it is in a club venue, that most people that come to these shows, come to sit and to be entertained, not to take part in the show, to participate in the energy level, to give back, to dance. At one point in the night, these annoying dudes behind us yelled at Erica to sit down, because apparently her dancing was getting in the way of their enjoyment, that God forbid they actually stand up from their chairs and show some love to this man playing his heart out. Of course, this made Erica dance even more and made me join her, just to be in solidarity and to annoy these assholes behind us even more.
Later in the night when riding home, still really drunk, I kept on referring them to as bloggers (which is funny considering how I definitely count as one as well) as a way of expressing my disdain for a certain type of audience member, for the type that is there not to engage, to participate, but rather to document, to say they were there. That is what I read these two assholes as. While we were dancing to some song, they kept on taking flash pictures of us dancing as a way of perhaps making us too self-aware, too uncomfortable, as a way of harassing us. I ignored it even though I wanted to punch them in the face, and I kept on dancing. I was there for Prince and I don't know why these dudes were there. Once the song was over, I turned around and took a lot of pictures of them on my phone, turned around, facing them off. One of the dudes got all pissed about me taking pictures of him, apparently him not appreciating someone taking his own photo - a blogger - someone comfortable behind their camera, someone who wants to observe and post pictures of the performer they saw, snarky comments about the audience or the musicians. I yelled at him and told them that they took pictures of us and they need to expect the same. One of the dude's then said he was taking pictures of Erica's ass. I yelled at them more and asked them why they came, why not just watch shit on YouTube. And why do you go to a concert to sit there? It's a question I think a lot at shows, but I finally had reason to vocalize this thought to some of these people, them doing their best to provoke us, them having a problem with us dancing, and me having a problem with them not dancing. You paid several hundred dollars to see Prince and you are going to sit there in your chair? This is motherfucking Prince!
I was there to dance.
Following "She's Always in My Hair," came another one of my favorite Prince songs, and that they were played back-to-back nearly made my head explode. He played "If I Was Your Girlfriend."
The rest of the set that followed was excellent. It's a blur, it was then too. I was drunk, yes, but more so totally high on seeing this man live, seeing him dance around the stage, tiny little thing that he is, but standing a hundred feet tall in his self-assuredness, a beautiful thing to witness.
I wish I was seeing every single one of his New York-area shows. I wish I had the money to do so since I know his setlist changes every night. I want to see him work through his whole catalogue. What if I had the opportunity to see him play "17 Days"? Or even "Another Lonely Christmas"? Or like 500 other songs? He's playing tomorrow night and Saturday night and I need to buy people Christmas presents and cannot spend my paycheck tomorrow on more tickets, but oh my God, how I want to, and if I suddenly come into some money, like say get a call from an old man uptown who likes drinking my piss, I might splurge and buy some tickets somewhere.
We rode a bus home and then a train and then a subway and I was in love with the two people I went with and felt pretty warm to everything encountered, to the mosaics above the escalator at the Seacaucas station, to the fact that they were playing Billy Joel on the station platform in New Jersey, this singer so associated with Long Island. I was in love with New York, with New Jersey, with Long Island, with every place in that moment that I was drawing connections to, to these people I was with. The air was cold and I think that helps things sometimes, makes warmth of the emotional kind become more necessary.
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