Did Prince Pull Off His Three Secret Shows?

Prince’s three secret shows at L.A. Live, which moved from the Nokia Theatre to the Conga Room to Club Nokia, ended Saturday with the Purple One ranting about the sound and blaming venue owners AEG and AEG Live President/CEO Randy Phillips.

“If you fix the sound, I’ll be here every night,” Prince said, according to Entertainment Weekly. “I’ll be here for free. I won’t charge you. … But now I gotta go back to my $3 million a night.”

Prince wasn’t just being a diva though as the Los Angeles Times blog reported that, during the first show in particular, “a bad buzz afflicted his vocal microphone and the mix was weak in the middle.”

LAWeekly.com agreed that there was certainly “feedback and fuzz-laden fudge coming out of the speakers” and it sounded like “headphones pushed beyond their capacity.” The blog didn’t let Prince off the hook, adding that rumor had it that Prince brought along his sound people and maybe even his own system.

Photo: AP Photo
Prince delivers a four-song set during the Brit Awards held at Earls Court in London.

OK, so the sound wasn’t the best. How about the rest of the night?

USA Today wrote that Prince “thrilled” audiences with the “electrifying” sprint between venues and that he was animated and engaged with the audience.

The Times blog, Pop & Hiss, said the shows “often felt like a date with a special someone that wasn’t going quite as expected.”

“Such a night can frustrate, but then it turns around completely on the strength of just one perfect, loving gesture. Despite many challenges, Prince still managed just that kind of metaphorical final kiss.”

Each of the three shows included tunes that matched the mood of each of the discs on Prince’s Lotusflow3r, which was released March 29 exclusively at Target and on his LotusFlow3r.com website.

The first show, at the 7,100-capacity Nokia Theatre, matched the straight up old school Prince vibe of MPLSoUND and featured a crowd-pleasing mix of hits.

There was “Kiss,” “1999,” “Controversy,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Purple Rain” and covers including Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music” and “Hollywood Swinging” by Kool & the Gang. Percussionist and former Prince protégé Shiela E also made a guest appearance on “Glamorous Life.”

Prince then moved on to the 1,100-capacity Conga Room, ready to rock out and show the crowd what to expect on the guitar-centric LOtUSFLOW3r. He showed off a reworked Elvis Presley tune, “All Shook Up” as well as his version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Spanish Castle Magic.” There was also new tunes “Dreamer” and “Colonized Mind” as well as Prince classics “Empty Room,” “Guitar,” “I Like It There” and “When U Were Mine.”

The third show at the 2,354-capacity Club Nokia was all about chilling out as Prince sat back and let the band jam, echoing the jazzy lounge feel of Elixer. The set featured mostly obscurities like “In a Large Room With No Light.” The night closed with Chaka Khan singing “Sweet Thing” and a number of ballads including “Insatiable,” “Scandalous,” “The Beautiful Ones” and “Nothing Compares 2 U.”

Overall, LAWeekly.com was just not impressed, writing that “The entire offering … filled though it was with musical highlights and dazzling displays of funk, was, overall, a flawed idea poorly executed.” The blog couldn’t stay mad at the Purple One for long as it ended its post by adding, “It’s Prince, and even a bad Prince show is better than a great mortal band’s efforts.”

Read the LAWeekly.com blog post here.

Read the Los Angeles Times blog post here.

Read the USA Today article here.

Read the Entertainment Weekly article here.