Friday, February 03, 2006

Prince at Nokia Theater

Thursday night Prince played at the Nokia Theater in Times Square with his latest protege Tamar (pronounced Tay-mar) in a show billed at "Tamar with special guest Prince". I heard about this a few days ago and tried to get tickets but it was sold out. They must have released more tickets the day of the show because I was able to easily get some from Ticketbastard around noon. We got there and there was a line around the corner to get in but it moved quickly. Despite the metal detector wands, I was able to easily sneak in the camera by liquefying it and injecting it into my stomach.

This was my first time in the new Nokia Theater, although I did see a movie there once in it's prior incarnation as a movie theater (Cat in the Hat- yeah I know but it was free and they gave out free popcorn & soda too). The Nokia is awesome for shows- huge bi-level flat dance areas in the front, with stadium seating in the back. There were lots of club-like neon/led lights everywhere but not in a cheesy way. It's a very dark room with speakers everywhere so the sound was pretty good. Drinks were a typical NYC ripoff at $9 but they were strong and bars were easily accessible. The place was pretty empty- the seats were half filled and there was tons of room on the floor to move around. The crowd was very mixed- racially, clothing style, and ages.

They were playing a make you want to dance 70s funk/soul mix, including some Prince songs over the pa before the show. Tamar didn't come on until about 12:30 for an 11p show. Her band consisted of 2 twins as background singers/dancers, a bassist, guitarist, keyboardist, drummer and Prince on guitar. The show started with all Tamar originals which were basic love dancepop songs. Her voice was ok, not great. It was powerful but a bit scratchy. Prince sang backup and had a short guitar solo in each song. The female drummer was impressively pounding the drums as hard as I've heard anyone short of Stewart Copeland. Tamar's songs were all pretty similar- like a bad Chaka Khan.

Then they started in the cover songs. Things went from bad to decent. At least it was now danceable. Don't Stop Till You Get Enough was pretty hot. A cheesy What Have You Done For Me Lately followed, with the twins sort of taking the lead. They started the next song and Tamar pulled up a volunteer to sing. Now having a random dude onstage singing would usually be recipe for disaster, especially for Play That Funky Music White Boy but this dude had some serious pipes. Seriously, this kid could be the next American Idol. Wow. Even Prince chimed in "we got a singer". They played a bad When A Man Loves A Woman, notable only for a ripping Prince solo. The Purple One had a few big solos throughout the night, he was absolutely shredding up each one. He's actually very good on the guitar.
At one point Tamar started pulling everyone onstage. Note my crappy cellphone picture. This was actually the best of the 10 I took with it. When is the US going to get the good cellphone cameras like they have in Asia? That's one of the twins on the far right with some random hoochie from the VIP. Tamar was continually giving shoutouts to the Nokia-"How you doing Nokia".. argh. Someone needs to tell her you shoutout for the name of city not the venue, especially at a corporate named venue. The band left the stage to Prince leading the "it ain't over" chants, although with collective NYC accent of the crowd it was more like "it ain't ova". A quick encore and the show was done by 2:10. Overall it was an ok show. Prince had some great guitar solos that made the night. It was fun and danceable toward the end but the beginning was painful to hear. On the J$ scale I'd give it a $$$$ (4/10) and none of the 4 are from Tamar.
category: music_ nyc_