red lights

Watered-down Prince

Marcus Amphitheater
Milwaukee, WI
June 28, 2001


Story by Tony Bonyata
Photo by Phil Bonyata

Filled with a mishmash of hits slapped together with seemingly little forethought, and patchworked together with soggy smooth jazz ramblings, the artist once again known as Prince opened the first night of Milwaukee's Summerfest with, not a bang, but a yawn.
Looking slender and fit with a wavy black shag, wide doggie-style collar and cherry red velvet outfit, his Purpleness looked like Florence Henderson getting down at an all night rave party. ''My name is Prince,'' he repeated to the audience, as if there was a chance they actually might have forgotten, before kicking into a high octane version of "Let's Go Crazy." While it seemed hopeful at first - with Prince tearing into scorching leads on his guitar - it soon became tiresome when he put his axe down and lept from one song to another, not giving his audience enough time to digest each number.
Performing chunks to mere snippets of hits like the poppy ''Raspberry Beret,'' ''When Doves Cry,'' ''Sexy Dancer'' and ''Little Red Corvette,'' Prince was joined by his band The New Power Generation. While his voice and the musicianship of the band was top-notch, the arrangements lacked the enthusiasm and spark that Prince is known for. The show awkwardly balanced between pop and smooth jazz, leaving little room for his once inspired, sexually driven funk to ooze through. (And let's face it, Prince has always been at his best when he's doing his James Brown-meets-Jimi Hendrix thang.)
He gave his near sold-out audience their props as he made mention to Milwaukee at every given opportunity, which didn't seem near as pandering as his cliched attempts to get them to repeatedly clap their hands together to the music.
This performance was the last of this tour, as he recently canceled a string of North American dates. Hopefully, if he ever reschedules these shows, he'll downplay the watered-down jazz, hold onto his guitar a bit longer and slather on the funk sauce like he used to when his name was Prince.

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