Reality Truck: Prince Is Not Quite the Jam of the Year

"In a recent interview, Keith Richards says he hasn't retired because 'chicks still dig me.' In a related story, necrophilia is on the rise." -- Conan O'Brien"Jam of the Year" is how the ads bill the current tour by the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince. Or "Prince" for short. Or, as my grandmother would say, "Mr. Potty Mouth." Yeah? Well, if that's true, it's been a very bad year. I hadn't been to an arena/stadium concert in a good ten years, which is when I abandoned all that loud rock and roll to "the young folk." With good reason, as it turns out. A lot's changed in the past ten years.First, no more camping out for tickets. OK, I didn't really do that when I was in college either, but luckily I went to school with a bunch of rich kids who gladly paid people to camp out for us, which is pretty much the same thing. Now my friends are as poor as I am -- permanently consigning all of us to the cheap seats.Second, the preparations are different now and involve none of the gaiety and reckless anticipation of the good old days. Our pre-concert shopping routine in college included the stockpiling of enough alcohol, condoms, and recreational pharmaceuticals to supply, at a minimum, ourselves and the band. My checklist for this show was pared down considerably: ear plugs and binoculars. I'm stuck taking what little pride I can in the fact that I didn't have any Geritol on hand. I could've had a wallet full of crack cocaine however and it wouldn't have mattered. I offered my purse to the security guard for inspection (just the way I used to) and he cheerily waved me past ... .I think he might've even called me ma'am. At this point, it was a toss-up who was the bigger walking anachronism, Prince or me? (A question that would be answered soon enough.)There's also the budgetary factor. It didn't take much to provide a car full of 18-year-olds with enough entertainment to justify a $15 ticket. For that matter, I'm pretty sure I belong to the same demographic that made Porky's (one and two, for those who were left with lingering unanswered questions after the first one) a blockbuster, so it'd probably be obvious to define us as the "low expectations" generation. But for a hundred bucks, I did not expect midway through the show to be resting to my head in my date's lap hoping to catch a few Zs. And trust me when I say it's a reflection on the uninspiring quality of the show rather than any statement on the charms of said date when I sadly reflect on those bygone concerts of yore when my friends and I used to put our heads in our boyfriends' laps -- and security would have to be summoned. Which of course brings up all the corollary collegiate memories of Prince and even adolescent recollections of the nuns confiscating a bootleg tape of Controversy. To a teenager, Prince was bad. Now he's just (dare I say it?) silly.One critic, for example, in describing the artist's (admitted) athletic agility and stylish dance moves, referred to how he leaped onto a piano and "polished off a few push-ups ... " And to be sure, the artist is still capable of heretofore unseen terpsichorean delights, but those were NOT push-ups. In fact, he spent a good portion of the evening engaging in exactly the same routine with inanimate objects that my dog did before I had him fixed. Would it be crude to suggest that perhaps someone ought to do rock stars the same surgical favor in that such behavior is almost as annoying and ridiculous in scrawny, vertically-challenged, middle-aged guys as it is in any other un-neutered male? Sexy? Silly. Sexy? Silly. Say it with me now.And that brings me to the real disappointment of the evening which is just how much it depresses me to see that the icons of my youth are aging just as badly as I am. The subject of MEDLEYS comes to mind, for example. There, I've said it. Medleys?!! (A little bit of Nikki being worse than no Nikki at all.) Where the hell am I anyway ... Vegas? What is this ... Sinatra?! Now don't get me wrong. Vegas can be funny and campy in the same way that say, a pilgrimage to Graceland could be -- as long as all the participants involved are IN ON THE JOKE. If they're not, it's not ironic. It's sad. I'd also like to see a moratorium on performing big hits which have been "re-arranged" beyond the point of recognizability. "Delirious" just doesn't work as either a lounge tune or a haunting ballad.And can we also, for once and for all, dispense with the faux sincerity and adulation? No more "I love you [INSERT NAME OF TOWN HERE]!!!" Please. You diminish us all. While we're at it, can we also agree to retire the word "slavery" as it applies to millionaire rock stars? It's almost as insulting as when people use the word "holocaust" to describe a bad-hair-day. Genocide does not equal uncooperative or limp tresses any more than a major-label-deal equals the capture and subsequent enslavement of an entire people. Such deals may be a Mobius strip spiraling straight to hell -- but rock stars are compensated almost as fairly as say, athletes, which makes the whole issue rather moot. And forget about those brief transcendental moments that used to make concert-going worthwhile -- these days, I'd settle for unrelenting competence. I may have pretty much hung up my pen as a music critic, but I feel compelled to at least point out the fact that Prince has had better bands. For that matter, so have I.

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