Prince On Every Tour: Parade
Alright peoples. It’s been a little bit since the last POET post (heh, I love that the acronym for this series is a real word). I intended to watch and rate my enjoyment today, but last night I somehow ended up watching the entire show. If you happen to be one of the few who pay attention to anything I do here (and I LOVE you for it because honestly, I am a real mess), you’ll know that I also just watched the Detroit ‘86 birthday show at the Cobo Arena while physically in Detroit this past Friday. Two shows in one. With that, here we are. Our next stop(s) on the POET train:
PARADE. DETROIT/STOCKHOLM. JUNE 7/AUGUST 22, 1986. LET’S GET INTO IT.
Oh Parade Prince. Probably amongst the most infuriating iterations of our beloved Prince. He is so unapologetically arrogant and there is nothing any of us can do about it. He changed up on us in a major way after cutting the PR tour short and putting out ATWIAD so quickly afterwards. 11 months after that, this man has another album AND feature film. Visually, he has forgone the curls that are near and dear to my heart for short, slickback that I cannot argue with. And it might have left some of us confused, shocked, wondering why he would take a complete left when the PR era was still in full swing. It’s because he could. He’d made it to megastardom and afforded him the flexibility he needed to REALLY throw us for some loops. This was the time for him to push the boundaries of his creativity in his music and his visual presentation of himself without too much worry of how it would be received. He already had us, and he knew it.
Parade Prince is that guy that knows he’s fine, that knows YOU know he’s fine, and will exploit it to no end. Because no matter how much you might protest to his face, the reality is this: the the moment he makes eye contact with you during that particularly rude rendition of Do Me, Baby, you both are fully aware that you will be patiently waiting for him in his limo at the direction of his security guard after the show. Against all better judgments. And he delights in the fact that you (try to) resist him. He loves the conquest, especially when he knows he wins. It’s fine. Let him win. Enjoy the life changing. Cherish it for the rest of your life thereafter.
ESSENTIALLY, that is what the entire Parade era is. Prince having a grand ol’ time as he quite literally does whatever he wants with no regard for our sanity. Meanwhile, we just try to pick up the pieces of our life as he continues to ruin it with each new era he ushers in. He’s running around looking like a vision out of a 1940′s noir, giving us new music that is very different but oh so great, throwing hip chains into a crowd of unsuspecting onlookers after what might be the most infuriating performance of Head known to us, and we are expected to deal with it. As if Purple Rain didn’t just take place. And no matter which side of the spectrum we fell on when it came to this new era - utterly opposed or completely on board - we were still here for it in some way, willingly or begrudgingly. Just like he knew we would.
Prince starts these shows shirtless, so you know you’re in for a ride. ATWIAD is GREAT live and a great song to open up with. It set the pace for the rest of the show: fun and full of grooves. And he does not hesitate to get into them. Christopher Tracy’s Parade, New Position, I Wonder U, Raspberry Beret are all in the first 15 minutes. We get songs spanning his entire career up to that point in both shows, and he is well aware of the fact that he has HITS ya understand?
His confidence has transformed into unabashed cockiness ( *sings* I ain’t go no money - THAT’S A LIE). It’s in the way he moves, the way he sings, the way he plays with the audience, everything. I’m frustrated just sitting here thinking about it all. And yet, here I am, unable to resist the overwhelming charm of Parade Prince. One, because his face. Two, he’s earned it if we want to be 100. The boy has put in insane work, and it finally skyrocketed with PR. Now he gets to enjoy it all. He deserves to be gassed. We’ll allow it.
Boyfriend didn’t get sloppy or plateau here either when he probably could have gotten away with it. A true professional, after having reached that level of stardom but deciding not to just phone it in or coast. Production value is still great, although less busy than the PR tour. No poles to slide down on, no bathtubs to take a shower of pearls in. Costumes are still great, albeit, again, not as busy as PR. Band is even tighter now with the expanded Revolution. Their sound is more dynamic with the addition of Eric “Sith” Leeds, Atlanta Bliss, and Atlanta’s God-awful ponytail. He was playin’ tho, so I’ll relax about it. They have proven that when it came time to execute on stage, they could handle the constant changes in sound and personnel quite well. But again, testament to his leadership and dedication to excellence.
Then there is the addition of official dancers in Jerome, Wally, and Greg. I know some may have felt “but why” about them, but man, do they add a really fun element to the show! We have full on routines now folks, and there are few things I love more than to see Prince work it out on stage in a routine. Yes, we saw some minor coordinated steps previously, but we hadn’t really had routines. With these three though, we see choreo that gives the show some more life, Prince being part of some of them (the 1999 album medley in which they did the PR balcony dance to Lady Cab Driver is A+), and even incorporating the band into them. It’s a real treat.
There are a few numbers I love from this tour. Detroit clearly has some great ones. Controversy/Mutiny is ALWAYS a fave, if not for the fact that they are good songs, then for the dancing during those numbers. Head…for very obvious reasons. It is already a jam, and Prince decides he has to one up himself every time he decides to perform it live. Of the four Parade shows I’ve seen, Detroit’s Head is by far the best. Paris gets an honorable mention though because there is a breath hitch that stopped me cold in my figurative tracks. It was…so authentic. Even if it wasn’t. Life Can Be So Nice was also another jam from the Detroit show, which was a nice surprise for me because it isn’t my fave from Parade. In the end though, I can confidently say that Pop Life is my favorite number from this show. I adore the live arrangement of this song so much. And he is incredibly cute during that performance, so there’s that.
Stockholm’s lineup is very similar to this one. But instead of Mutiny (sad about it), we get 17 Days, which, surprisingly I really enjoyed. 17 Days is one of my favorite songs ever, but it’s one of the few I prefer the studio version over the live version. It’s perfect the way it is, and for some reason, to me, the live versions don’t really capture the magic of that song for me. However, this one came close. And throwing in the I Wanna Be Your Lover instrumental at the end was a nice touch. However, vocally, visually….Do Me, Baby wins. It’s a song that P can never not SANG on, so it usually wins vocally for me. But then the addition of the horns and the breakdown at the end just really pushed me over the edge.
I would like to give a shoutout though to that 1999 album medley I mentioned earlier because it JAMMED and I might have yelled when I heard Automatic. Also Anotherloverholenyohead from this show was phenomenal and deserves to be mentioned. Lisa unleashed an insane piano solo that really showed off her skills. The girl is bad.
While I do love Prince in a crop-top, I am a huge proponent of the suits from this era. Even the unforgivable shoulder pads aren’t enough to deter me. Something about Prince in a tie….. The yellow suit from Detroit is iconic. Period. In Stockholm we were greeted with a nice blue one. Both 100 cuts above. Honorable mention to the polka dot vest from both shows. The man looks like a 5 course meal in polka dots.
Still Would Rating: Angrily. Begrudgingly. Without a shadow of a doubt and no hesitation, honey.
Overall Rating: If you’re looking for something to lift your spirits and also groove extra hard to, either of these shows are what you need. His carefree spirit during them is contagious, and you can’t help but share in the joy he puts on display. He’s serving us some LOOKS, some ridiculous and quite frankly irresponsible onstage antics, and some of my favorite music from him (I adored both ATWIAD and Parade). As the creator of the gif directly above so eloquently put it: “ Yellow suit and the band were rocking. What’s not to like?” Indeed.