Sunday, December 4, 2011

Prince! – Welcome to Canada Tour 2011 *updated*

The other day I received a notice from Chez Ottawa radio station (I think) for a seat sale for the upcoming Prince concert. I had remembered hearing about it but had forgotten about it until that moment. Which is a good thing, because I did not want to spend $300 to go anyway (me and both of the boys.) And that was for fairly cheap mid-level seats.

The seat offer was for $25 and so I quickly asked the boys what they thought and both were definitely on for this concert at that price. So I bought.

Well, that was the best hundred bucks I have spent in a long, long time. What a concert! The set list is pretty decent.


Click on it to go to to see if someone fills in those “unknown” entries.

Edit: Ask and ye shall receive. The above set list has been updated with the latest one with all the songs, and it appears to have been made more accurate in other ways. For example, Cool was originally marked as a cover from The Time. That has been removed. But Hot Thing was added in place of the unknown in the first encore, and The Bird was added in place of the unknown in the second encore. And it turns out that The Bird is another The Time cover, so we got two as it originally appeared. One after the other, which is pretty cool.

We did not get the amazing covers (like Sarah McLachlan’s Angel) that they got in Toronto, but we did get two The Time covers! If you have seen Prince’s legendary rock music movie Purple Rain (shame on you if you have not seen it) then you will remember the superb band “Morris Day and The Time” who sang a lot of great songs to compete with Prince. That’s one thing that makes the movie so great.

Of course, for so little money, the seats were in fact in the nose bleeds. Top row of the 300 level :-) …

You can see the overhang and the effects of the stair light that never went off all night. I was actually bathed in light here and that made it doubly difficult to record (yes, there is a video at the end of this post) and photograph. It did not help that everyone I encountered on the way in were clear that the “no photos or recording” policy would be strictly enforced this evening. And it was. There were patrols quite frequently and people standing at the top of the stairs just watching.

Anyway, that limited my ability to get good shots. For example, I accidentally left the F550EXR in JPEG mode and now I have to live with the lesser results. Tough luck. When you are sneaking the camera out of a pocket and burying it in your coat and against your chest for every shot, you take what you can get. Filming was even worse, as the camera got really hot every time I recorded a song. Not pleasant :-)

As you can see from the image above, the whole arena was filled and the stage was enormous, taking up half the hockey rink. There was a grand piano on the curled end on the left side of the androgyny symbol he uses these days and there was plenty of room for the backup singers and Prince to walk or dance around it. Impressive size.

Here, Prince sings to the one side of the arena while sitting on the piano.

A short time later, Prince and one of the backup singers sing from the same area.

Remember to click on these for the 800px versions as you will see more clearly what is going on.

Here’s one of my better shots of Prince. This is not a crop … it is the F550’s reach that gets this image. I didn’t get many like it because I did not have the freedom to experiment with exposures and to hold the camera steady. All shots were one handed with the camera resting on my chest inside my coat. That sucked, but this image does not :-)

He starts his encores about half way through the concert, and each time he disappears he changes clothes. This is no doubt because he never stops moving on stage and must sweat profusely.

The stage lighting was simply gorgeous. Such an artistic flare, which makes sense since he is probably the most artistic of the rock / pop singers of the last few decades. Here, the stage is stunning in its colors and patterns. Prince is over on the right side singing to that half of the arena. I think this is one of two cropped images. The rest are as shot.

A great view of Prince coming around the top of the symbol, which of course also contains the superb band.

You pretty much have to see him live to understand what a consummate showman he is. It just blows your mind to see how much he engages the audience. It’s relentless and it dramatically increases the overall enjoyment of the experience.

Just thought of this sound bite …

Prince in concert makes Dave Grohl of the Foo Fighters seem positively mime-like …

If you have never seen the Foo Fighters live, then maybe that won’t be amusing to you. You can quote me if you like :-)

Here, Prince turns his back on me. It’s as if he can pick me out of the crowd :-)

And just to remind you why that joke’s funny (you guys are a lot of work today) …

Perhaps you noticed in that images that the tail end of the stage seems crowded. That’s because he reprised his bringing a lucky audience member from the VIP section into a full blown invasion! His backup singers brought about a dozen people onto the stage and they danced through the last encore. The finale is on the video coming up if you want to see them live. (Not really live, but alive and moving perhaps.)

Of course, while they are enjoying themselves, Prince continues to play for the crowd (the unwashed masses that don’t get a sniff of the air surrounding him.)

And one last one before the video … this was probably shot while he played the amazing Jungle Love cover of Morris Day and The Time.

So … on to the video. I captured 5 songs from the set list above:

Let’s Go Crazy
Delirious (partial)
When Doves Cry
Purple Rain (long and unbelievable)
Controversy (the finale)

Considering the extreme stealth requirements (shoot from inside the coat resting on chest and hand) and the acoustics way up in the nose bleed section (which were good, but affected a bit by the overhang) I am pretty pleased with this effort. While I write this, YouTube is processing the video but it should be available very shortly. About 23 minutes of amazing performances …

As usual I shot with the Panasonic ZS3 for video. (All stills are Fuji F550EXR of course.) The video is mastered in Sony Vegas Platinum HD Suite 11.


And for some strange reason, all six cores were used this time and it completed in less than 2x time. Since I am used to almost 9x time, I am really pleased.

And without further ado … Prince!

There are a few more images in my gallery if you want to see them:

Update: I deleted the video from YouTube as it was hit with a copyright violation from the company mentioned in the notice below. Since that gives me one of two possible strikes, I removed the offending material. They hit me for matching video content, which of course could only be because you see the monitors, which I presume they are recording as well. That would violate their copyright. I cannot imagine anything else being a violation of video content. Of course, it’s the threat of legal action (big media love to beat their collective chests while threatening grandma with massive fines) that really gets your attention.

Sp big media wins another round against people preserving their wonderful memories and Prince drops a few million notches in my “good guy” books … what a bummer.