By Tracey Dee Rauh
Managing Editor of Features
---- — In 1982 he brought the party to the "1999" tour. And on the brink of 2014, Prince once again delivered an electrifying experience to audiences at Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut.
At 55 years old, this music maestro has lost no energy, intrigue or ingenuity. Sporting high heels, a yellow suit and an enormous 'fro, Prince gave the crowd their fill of the hits they bought tickets to hear, but never with predictability.
On the first show of a three-night gig at the Uncasville, Ct., venue -- his only East Coast stop on the tour, he took the stage with a 21-piece musical support group that included 11 horns and two bands: 3rd Eye Girl and New Power Generation. Wild cheers ensued when he strutted on stage to take command of the arena and opened with a crisp performance of "Days of Wild." That enthusiasm remained throughout the night in the nearly packed 7,500-seat venue.
The evening quickly turned into a jazz and soul fest, with hits popping up in unexpected riffs and musicians shifting gears quickly to portions of yet another favorite. Prince picked up his axe for a rock-infused "Let's Go Crazy" and again for "She's Always in My Hair," which served as a solid reminder that he's an accomplished guitarist.
Bringing all the favorites to fans would have been impossible, even in a generous two-plus hour performance. To accommodate, he expanded his set list by cutting down the length of some songs, though he did play extended versions of a couple others.
Highlights included the aforementioned "1999," "Let's Go Crazy" and "Musicology." For a standout rendition of "Nothing Compares To You," Prince was joined by New Power Generation vocalist Shelby J., causing the stadium to radiate with the audience's collective awe.
For the finish of the pre-encore set, he reclaimed compositions that went pop with other musicians, including "The Bird" (The Time), "Jungle Love" (Steve Miller Band) and "The Glamourous Life" (Sheila E.).
Two encores rocked with hits notably missing from the main act, including "When Doves Cry," "I Would Die 4 U," "Let's Work" and (ah yes ...) "Purple Rain."
Ever the mysterious one, Prince has not announced hard dates for stops on the next leg of his tour in 2014, but he does have an album, "Plectrum Electrum," slated for release soon. Fans should watch his website for opportunities to see him live in coming months.
By the time he re-entered the stage at Mohegan Sun for that final encore of "Purple Rain," Prince had pleased the crowd with most of the music they'd hoped to hear. What he hadn't done, however, was rest on his laurels with safe-but-predictable delivery of successful old recordings.
Any real fan knows what a true artist he is. And as true artists always will do, Prince is ever evolving.