Birthday Tribute: Prince Gives Toronto 2 Surprise Shows

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PrinceWith only a 48-hour warning of his arrival, Prince treated fans in Toronto to two sold-out “A Piano & A Microphone” shows on March 25 that combined highlights from throughout his career with choice covers, most notably the David Bowie song “Heroes.” Playing a purple piano on stage simply adorned with candelabras – shades of Liberace! – the rock-funk superstar proved, as the Toronto Star said in review, “that Prince is King.”

His appearances were announced just prior via Twitter and all tickets were quickly sold for the tightly-controlled solo concerts – no cameras or cell phones allowed – at the Canadian city’s 3200 seat Sony Centre for the Performing Arts. The two freewheeling shows often melded one song into the next, and featured not just his own hits – each one ended with “Purple Rain” – but obscurities and lesser-known gems during two very different sets (see almost complete list below).

He also charmed fans with a range of other cover songs: the Bill Withers 1972 hit “Use Me,” and Dave Mason’s Traffic/Joe Cocker tune “Feelin’ Alright” in the first show; “A Case of You” by Canadian Joni Mitchell (one of Prince’s favorite artists) in an encore of show two. In both he segued Bob Marley’s “Waiting In Vain” into his own “If I Was Your Girlfriend” and played the piano instrumental “Linus and Lucy,” the Peanuts theme song by jazz artist Vince Guaraldi.

His name is “Prince” and he is funky. 5 encores and I’m still desperate for more. LOVE

A photo posted by Cameron Sorensen (@cam10013) on

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Some numbers were done rather true to their original versions while others were creatively reinterpreted. The shows demonstrate how the artist know for his facile and imaginative guitar work is also quite a gifted pianist. As the Star concluded of the evening, “[O]ne received the impression that Prince could perform an entire concert on bagpipes and kazoo and he would still sell out the venue, because the live concert results would be magically fresh, intriguing and invigorating, as he proved time and again Good Friday night.”

First Show Setlist
I Would Die 4 U
Baby I’m a Star
The Ballad of Dorothy Parker
Four (Madhouse song)
Dolphin
Heroes (David Bowie cover)
I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man
Use Me (Bill Withers cover)
How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
Waiting in Vain (Bob Marley & The Wailers cover)
If I Was Your Girlfriend
Eye Love U, But Eye Don’t Trust U Anymore
Black Sweat
Kiss
Little Red Corvette / Dirty Mind
Linus and Lucy (Vince Guaraldi cover)
The Beautiful Ones
Take Me With U
Raspberry Beret
Starfish And Coffee
Paisley Park
Purple Music / Free Urself

Encore:
Nothing Compares 2 U

Encore 2:
Purple Rain

Second Show Setlist
Joy in Repetition
Girl
Look at Me, Look at U
The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
I Feel for You
Controversy
I Would Die 4 U
Little Red Corvette / Dirty Mind
Linus and Lucy (Vince Guaraldi cover)
Cream
Elephants & Flowers
Black Muse
Take Me With U
Raspberry Beret
Starfish And Coffee
Paisley Park
Black Sweat
Kiss

Encore:
How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
Waiting in Vain / If I Was Your Girlfriend
A Case Of You (Joni Mitchell cover)
Purple Music
Free Urself

Encore 2:
Nothing Compares 2 U

Encore 3:
Adore
Somewhere Here on Earth
Diamonds and Pearls
The Beautiful Ones
Purple Rain

The Toronto shows would prove to be his next-to-last dates. His concerts on April 14 in Atlanta were his last, formal performances before his untimely death on April 21, 2016.

Best Classic Bands Staff

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