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Last night HP Pavilion got a bit warmer —breaking up the tense teal Sharks’ third playoff series for a brief purple stint as the artist formally known as Prince began his first night of concerts in San José.
Legendary soul singer Larry Graham opened the show and led a mean bass solo alongside his seven-person band, Graham Central Station. Graham and his band performed hits like “Higher Ground” and finished the set with the powerful classic “Thank You,” giving even the nose bleeders a reason to be thankful.
Never a dull entrance, Prince’s set began at 10 p.m. by tripping out the audience with a series of lights switching on and off among the entire Pavilion before finally giving the audience what they were waiting for. In a Prince-like fashion, “The Purple One” was rolled to the underside of the stage in an instrumental box convenient for the 5’ 2” artist.
Proving he hasn’t lost it, the 52-year-old luminary made his rounds amid the Prince symbol-shaped stage as he opened with “1999.”
Due to the lower-than-expected attendance, many lucky Prince fans were upgraded to significantly better seats. However, most sections were generously occupied, considering the show dates were announced a mere week ago.
Prince managed to cover the late Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” sending the audience into an instant famed-pop overload and dance frenzy.
Then came an extra-sultry number in the form of dancing twins and the song “Cream.” He announced two of his beautiful, petite dancers as the “twinz” exotically clad in skintight, cutout onesies under miniature capes.
There were plenty middle-aged women aisle dancing, the noise level started out abnormally low. Prince even jokingly claimed, “There are too many young people here.”
The loudest sing-a-long was during “Purple Rain” where the audience was showered with blasting purple confetti. The hit enticed celebs like comedian Dave Chappell to join the VIP section beside the stage for a brief period.
As Prince descended for a short-lived goodbye, a perfectly sparkling Sheila E. raised to the stage, drum ensemble in-hand, blasting into the high-energy “The Glamorous Life.” The audience welcomed her with a roar of surprised chants and she reciprocated the gratitude yelling “I love you too San José.” She also mingled with VIP members following her act.
Joining her, Prince proceeded to arise in two more encores (a measly number compared to the seven encores he provided back in February in Oakland’s Oracle Arena.)
The second encore failed to disappoint as Prince seductively uttered “Your not gunna go home are ya? Well, come home with me,” as he mounted his purple piano in a sexy fashion.
“I’ve got too many hits,” he cried before breaking out into a montage of infamous party hits such as “Rasberry Barret” and “When Doves Cry.”
In the subsequent encore, of “Let’s Go Crazy,” Prince changed into a different bedazzled silk robe, while the “twinz” also changed into a twenties-style flapper ensembles.
Prince concluded his performance on a strong yet angelic note with extravagant gyrations and a series of hip shifting proving he is alive and well. This gave a sure fire impression that retirement was nowhere in sight.
The colorful performance by both Larry Graham and Prince gave the 20,000-seater Pavilion an intimate performance feeling even for those in the nose-bleed sections.
Prince fancied the bright purple coats of the Pavilion usher uniform so much that he excitingly kept one for himself.
The purple cream of the entertainment crop kicks of an epic week of grand-scale events with the end of the Sharks’ third playoff series and the premiere of Glee at San José’s HP Pavilion.
Jennifer Elias for Access Magazine
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