My Experience of Seeing Prince Live in Portland.

Photographe of the marquee at the Roseland in Portland, Oregon when Prince played. Pictures were not allowed once we entered the Roseland Theater, so this is all I took. Honestly, no phone usage in a concert like this---can't think of a better idea.


Though I've dabbled in it all my life and even started an all-girl band in 2005 that is still alive today, I am not a musician. I am, however, an expert lover of music. My big sis, Iya, had a major influence on what sort of music would stay with me through the years. Picture this:

  • mid-90s
  • old cranky red Bravada
  • one of those old installed car audio systems, with the removable face
  • stacked up CDs in the console, classics
  • I'm wearing my own version of 90s grunge, let's call it dirty hollywood... dad's old hang-gliding shirt complete with holes, a honeycomb long john shirt underneath, one of grandma's big fancy coats (sort of like wearing a plush carpet), baggy fancy black pants, a cool belt, cool boots,  lots of eye makeup.
  • Iya picks out a CD...something I think I really don't like: Prince.
I'm annoyed; I was one of those (potentially annoying) kids who hated following the norm. To me, Prince was a popular pop artist that I wanted nothing to do with simply because of his pop popularity. But then I begin to sit back and actually listen. It's something completely unexpected; it's like nothing I'd ever heard before. Hot Thing off of his 1987 double LP collection, Sign of the Times. We listen to the whole album. I'm mad...because I love it. Fast forward to today, I could sing every lyric, every guitar lick of Sign of the Times if you asked me to. He is on my shortlist of one of the most inspiring, talented musicians of all time. I could come across as a crazy mega fan, but whether or not they feel something from it anyone who's ever really explored his music for more than 10 minutes knows: the dude is a genius. Last Sunday, Will and I had the extreme pleasure of seeing him perform live for the second time. The first time was in the mid-2000s in Philadelphia in a massive arena. This time, we saw him with a small crowd in a small venue (the same size venue where we've seen our Portland friends' bands play). Both experiences were magical, both were each their own thing. There are lots of great Prince reviews circulating around now about this current tour with 3rd eye girl, what he's playing, how he plays it, how he defies all expectations and leave people shaking in their seats in awe. So I won't attempt to write about what I experienced as a professional reviewer or seasoned musician would---I will, however, attempt to let you in on the secrets we were told that night. He made us forget about everything outside of that room in those 2 hours. He lifted us to another time, another world. It was us and them. We were a team. There were two moments that struck me the most:
  • By the second encore, we had formed our own community. It was the community experiencing the unfathomable Prince and his impossibly virtuosic all-woman band, 3rd eye girl, up close and personal. Our encore became a call and response from one side of the room to the other, we clap you clap back, a thumping stomp sound became the bass. We were a tribe of audience members who were all pining for the same thing. Then Will & I started a chant and it sounded like we were all singing together, forming our own music. People were creating their own versions of the chant, you looked around the room---it was electric, full of all different kinds of people coming together. And then the curtains open for the second encore and last song of the night: Purple Rain. Which brings me to my second moment...
  • All of our efforts had paid off, the whole room ERUPTED into an energetic sigh (slash: roar scream) and it felt like we were floating. The ooooh, ooooh, ooooh, ooooh moment came in the song and he made it very clear that he wanted everyone to participate. He kept saying, "one more time," and it would start again. Then he kept reminding us, "don't worry about your neighbor, just sing." And we did. Louder and louder. It was one of the most inspirational moments I have ever had the privilege of experiencing...with complete strangers.
He challenged us and encouraged us to leave our inhibitions behind. It felt like he was a mentor to us all, with his afro and his black turtleneck featuring a big purple heart. He was so cool, so grounded, his work seemingly effortless but somehow far beyond perfect. The whole night felt like love to me. It was pure love. And I am one lucky gal to have experienced it. This is history to me. ***Song of the Moment: The Beautiful Ones, by Prince***
Group 7