How To Boost Your Stage Show Presentation (Rick James vs. Prince Part 2!)
Saturday, March 29, 2008 — by Wow Jones
In an earlier post, I wrote about an interesting anecdote from the Rick James autobiography regarding Rick James’ and Prince’s rivalry.
In a post on a Prince website message board, a member wrote about his/her experiences watching Prince open up for Rick James. What he/she revealed is just as insightful as Rick James’ account.
PDogz (wildgoldenhoney from Prince.org) account at a Rick James concert, check it out:
1979: Attended a Rick James concert in Charlotte, NC. Prince was the opening act – Blew EVERYONE away! Rick James could not compare when he followed Prince’s act. In fact, about 20 minutes into Rick’s set, people in the audience started walking out. It wasn’t that Rick James performed poorly, it was just that after seeing Prince – there was no where else to go! Prince wore everybody out! I feel like I was a part of history that night. May Rick James be resting peacefully.
His entire set was about 45 minutes or so of complete mayhem and frenzy!
When you first entered the Coliseum, there was no curtain and everything was setup at the front edge of the stage: mic-stands, keyboards, and very few other props. The drum set was in the middle of the stage placed up on a little riser with an oval-shaped sign over it (which was first covered in canvas) that had “PRINCE” spelled out in lights, as in the logo on his 1979 “Prince” album. Everybody was just standing around, jamming to the pre-concert music that they play over the system, smoking joints, grooving, and basically waiting for Rick James.
No one really knew who Prince was yet. In fact, I thought we were about to see a band called “Prince For You” (the title of his first album). I didn’t know yet that Prince was an individual and not just the name of a band. I thought certainly that no one would be actually named “Prince”.
Then… BAMM! The lights went out, and you could make out 3 shadowy figures move onto the stage, and then stood with their backs to the audience. The rest of the band took their place, and all you could hear over the sound system was someone speaking in a low, sort of foreboding tone:
“Charlotte, are you ready for me?” — Prince
The drum roll hit, the stage lights came up, and Andre, Prince, and Dez turned and all charged about 4 or 5 steps toward the audience – and everybody freaked the Hell out! These guys looked scary as shit! The one in the middle (who I soon learned was Prince) had this spiky hairdo, full make-up, a pink leather motorcycle jacket, panties, black stockings, and pumps! The audience reaction was pure fright! Then Prince reached around to his back, pulled his guitar around to the front, then the whole band started jamming “Sexy Dancer”, and the crowd quickly got over their fright and started rocking to the music and jamming along – all hands were in the air. By the end of that first song, everybody was like: “Oh shit! This guy AIN’T playing!” The party was ON full blast!
Their play list consisted of songs from his first two albums, but the song they did that most sticks out in my mind is when they played “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?”, because Prince was ad-libbing a lot. Like:
Why you wanna treat me so bad? Is it the clothes I wear?
Why you wanna treat me so mean? Is it the style of my hair?
But what completely blew people away was when they played their encore: “I Wanna Be Your Lover”.
Prince went mad, threw off that cool ass pink leather jacket, peeled off his stockings, threw them at the audience, and was running around the stage jamming to the beat with nothing but his guitar, bikini underwear, and high-heeled boots (with little stars on the side). And then once he was done jacking-off the microphone (as if he were giving it head – Prince was a real whore on stage back then), tossed his guitar to the side, reached his hand down into his panties to cover his dick, and pulled his panties all the way down to his knees, gyrating toward the audience with only his hand covering his dick! WTF!!! The audience was going crazy! At the end of his set, Prince said “Damn Charlotte, we’re gonna have to come back here again soon!”
And that was it! I was a stoned-cold Prince fan! I started telling people about Prince the next day!
At that point, everybody was standing around like they had completely forgot about Rick James. But the roadies came out and moved all of Prince’s stuff off stage, the sign over the drums came apart into two pieces and they removed that. But what really tripped me out was once all of Prince’s equipment was off stage, they removed the backdrop that was behind Prince’s set, and you could see that the stage was actually HUGE and that Prince had only been setup right up at the front. There was a giant curtain hanging behind all of that. After several more moments of getting everything set up, the lights dimmed again, the music started, the curtain opened up, and there you could see that this stage was about a mile wide and a mile deep! This was Rick James’s stage!
Rick came out, and The King of Punk Funk reminded you of what you came here for! His show was awesome, but I’ll save it for another thread. But it was interesting to note that many people in the audience started moving out, because at least initially, Rick was no comparison to what we had all just seen out there! Don’t get me wrong, Rick tore the roof off that sucker, but it was hard to stop thinking about what we had just seen Prince do out there.
Rick’s show was about 2 hours long, and the Stoned City Band succeeded in funking us to death! The show was actually exhausting! I remember thinking “How in the Hell can they do this every night, and from town to town?” Ahh, the memories!
See what you gotta do to win a crowd over? What EVER it takes!!! Are you ready?
— The Wow Jones Report