The King of erotic funk slammed into the Universal Amphitheatre Thursday for the start of a three-day stint. There was plenty of glitz and glam, and when the sparks settled, Prince again proved that, beyond the hype, he’s a master showman.
Evening began with Prince reading a copy of the recent Los Angeles Times pan of the San Francisco tour, pretending to urinate on it with lighter fluid, and sending it to oblivion with a match as he launched into “My Name Is Prince.” More flames were to follow.
First act consisted of songs solely from his latest Warners release, which uses a symbol uniting male and female signs that hung like a flaming arrow above the stage, under which the meister of erotica played out his funkadelic fantasies.
The early show was framed around cliche-ridden scenarios; a faux sheik’s daughter, Mayte Garcia, is dragged from the audience and turned into a Power Generation funkette, and dancer Kelly Konno plays a nosy reporter who gets her comeuppance by being stripped on stage. Both sketches seemed more suited to reruns of Dean Martin’s “Golddiggers.”
Nonetheless, the top-notch footwork of Garcia, and Prince’s high voltage performance around and on top of her, served to turn these banalities into amusing sidebars to tunes like “Sexy MF” and “Love 2 the 9s.”
Massive drummer Michael Bland and zoot-suited guitarist Levi Seacer Jr. provided sharp backup when Prince wasn’t soloing on his lavender guitar or plum piano.
The second act was even higher octane, as Prince blasted off with “Let’s Go Crazy,””Kiss” and “Irresistible Bitch,” showing no signs of the flu that caused him to reschedule the first two nights of this stand.
The New Power Generation was top-notch throughout, with kudos to rapper Tony Mosley and fellow hip-hoppers Damon Dickson and Kirk Johnson. Ace tech work included roadies who seemed choreographed, a panoply of clever costumers, and a futuristic light rig, which kept the night full of eye-popping spectacle.