Prince Brings the "Rain" to Oakland

Funky leadoff to triple-header

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK

    "They said we couldn't sell this place out! How long did it take? Five minutes?"

    And with that, Prince had Oakland ("The best place on Earth to be tonight") back comfortably in the palm of his hand. But it didn't stay comfortable for long.

    Starting off with "Uptown," from his first album, Prince shook things up at Oracle Arena for two solid hours, jamming, dancing, preening, and giving adoring fans a trip through three decades of funk.

    Those decades have been surprisingly good to Prince.  He still moves, hits the falsettoes, and even looks like he did back in the "Purple Rain" days.  He's still wonderfully James Brown-like in his self love (vamping, "I wrote this while looking in the mirror" during "Cream"), but was not above giving the stage up to his opening act, Oakland native and Prince mentor Larry Graham, the still-gorgeous Sheila E. (a great duet for "A Love Bizarre") and his band, New Power Generation, as they drove through Rihanna's "Rude Boy" for an encore.

    A highlight:  Shelia E. drumming and ripping through "Glamorous Life," followed immediately by surprise guest Carlos Santana literally pulling the guitar off of Prince's back for an extended solo.

    Prince stayed away from some of the obvious choices for crowd-pleasing songs (perhaps leaving "Let's Go Crazy," "1999," "Little Red Corvette," and "When Doves Cry" for Wednesday or Thursday's shows), but still had plenty of hits.  "Purple Rain," as emotional as you remember from the mid-eighties, "You've Got The Look," and a sing-along with "Kiss" that wrapped with Prince popping and locking like he was in my high school hallways between classes.

    The show wasn't perfect, but watching Prince calling audibles as things went on gave it a spontaneous, new feel.  Not bad for music created long before we had families, mortgages, and adult concerns.  You know, when we had extra time....

    Did Scott mention Sheila E.?  He's on Twitter:  @scottbudman