Prince tells awe-inspiring story with ‘Piano and a Microphone’ show

@prince via Instagram
Photo credit: @prince via Instagram

Prince comes and goes like a mythical figure who makes an appearance and disappears without notice. In 2015, he surprised fans with his “Hit & Run” tour by doing several surprise shows at intimate venues in Louisville, Detroit, and Paisley Park in Minnesota. He also did a “Rally 4 Peace” show in Baltimore following the unrest in April 2015. But afterward, Prince disappeared again.

On Feb. 28, Prince decided to re-emerge to kick off his “Piano and a Microphone” tour at the Paramount Theater in Oakland, California. After initially announcing the show several weeks ago, tickets sold out for two shows (7 p.m. and 10 p.m.) within a matter of minutes.

Lines were wrapped around the building an hour before show time as dozens of Bay Area fans took photos with the illuminated marquee board, which highlighted Prince’s arrival at the Paramount. It made the dream real. Inside, a projection of a kaleidoscope of colors was positioned behind a piano, a seat and a microphone, which was lit by a Fluorescent purple light. It was all that Prince would need on this special evening.

Sporting his signature Afro and a purple outfit, Prince sat at the piano and began to take concertgoers on a journey through his story. He played a riff of “I Would Die 4 U” before discussing memories of his childhood. “I grew up in Minnesota just wanting to be like my father,” he said. “I loved my mom, my Bible, and my music. Just like my father. … But no one should learn love from two people fighting. We need a new story. Because the old one doesn’t work anymore.”

Prince transitioned into “Take Me With You” as the crowd sung along in joy, “I don’t care where we go, I don’t care what we do, I don’t care pretty baby, just take me with you.”

Prince controlled the mood at all times and slowed things down by saying, “Hold on baby, you’re moving too fast,” before singing a melodic version of “Little Red Corvette.” He transition into “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” and also did an improvisational beat box and a Thelonious Monk-style jazz piano riff during the song.

On the Ray Charles cover, “Unchain My Heart,” Prince showed the emotions and unrelenting pain of lost love, “I’m under your spell like a man in a trance, but I know darn well, that I don’t stand a chance,” he sang.

Prince also touched on the issues of Black oppression today with “Black Muse” where he paid homage to Kendrick Lamar by saying, “Like Kendrick says, we gonna be alright.”

Other hits that Prince performed included “Thieves in the Temple,” “Raspberry Beret,” and “Diamonds & Pearls.” Prince exited the stage twice before coming back for encore performances of “So High,” and “Purple Rain.”

Prince’s “Piano and a Microphone” show is more of a jam session among friends than an elaborate concert with a live band, large LED screens and pyrotechnics. But when you’re Prince, nothing else is necessary.

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