Live Review: Prince – Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne

It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a big money show. And yes, this was definitely a show rather than a gig. With an audience over 12,000 strong circling the 360 degree stage shaped into the iconic Sign of the Times logo we, each of us, waited in a hubbub for the tiny, high heeled legend to emerge.

Amusing ourselves with a few Mexican waves and bursts of applause to coax the superstar on to the stage the lights in the arena suddenly go out to which, naturally, the crowd explodes.

I’m half expecting people to take off their pants and throw them in the general direction of the stage or for over-excited women to faint with anticipation. The fans are lulled by a delicate acoustic guitar extended intro to Purple Rain while a woman in white walks gingerly across the stage lengthening a 30ft train of shimmering white fabric behind her. Already the drama is overwhelming.

Prince at Rod Laver Arena Melbourne review

The audience near the stage then roars triggering an echo of the same thunderous clapping and cheering around the stadium. And there he is. In a shower of gold glitter, you guessed it, the opening track to the Melbourne leg of his tour was Gold. There is smoke, more glitter and lots of flashing, mesmerising lights as he plays a string of his solid hits like Kiss, Little Red Corvette and Raspberry Beret. The highlight for me was Cream because it’s one of those songs that really exemplifies what Prince advocates and symbolises – sex.

In whirlwind of hip-thrusting, power air grabs, boogie, and more smoke and fancy lights we’d heard a back catalogue of some of his biggest hits (despite Prince’s objections of not playing just the big guns anymore), a cover of Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop till You Get Enough, and an extra-long version of Purple Rain. There were of course too many hits to showcase and too many fans to satiate so we had to be content with a medley of snippets of some of our favourites.

I had to chortle before the encore at the rather confused crowd that were convinced that the show was over at this point and made beelines towards the exits. Those of us who remained waited out the ten minutes before the maestro returned with intermittent applause until he answered our calls for more.

I was sure I was about to be treated to Diamonds and Pearls when he came out wearing a cream suit. I knew he wouldn’t leave me, a doting, adoring, and devoted fan, just hanging like that. Surely, he was just teasing. The encore was long and satisfying however, absent of both diamonds and pearls. I was heavily in denial. Even as the stage was being packed up, guitars being un-wired, glitter being swept away, I clung to my seat.

I wasn’t the only one to have the same heaviness of heart leaving the show once I was finally convinced that it was in fact over. I overheard many ‘I can’t believe he didn’t play that’ and ‘He should’ve definitely played that one’.

But this is a man that claims not to have set-lists and not to want to play all the hits, and in big money shows it’s difficult to please all 12,000 fans. So I forgive him.

Pic Courtesy of NPG Records.

(Purple Rain instrumental)
Jam Of The Year
Let’s Go Crazy
Little Red Corvette
Shelby J song
I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man
Take Me With U
Raspberry Beret
Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough/Cool

Sometimes It Snows In April
Love Thy Will Be Done
Dance Electric

When Doves Cry
Nasty Girl
Darling Nikki
Pop Life
Sign O The Times
The Most Beautiful Girl
Single Ladies

Hot Thing
I Would Die 4 U

Purple Rain

If I Was Your Girlfriend
She’s Always In My Hair