When it comes to concerts, there are tireless performers, and then there is Prince.
His Purpleless launched his Welcome 2 Canada tour on Friday night at the Air Canada Centre with the first of two shows - and it was a whopper.
Would you believe a three-hours-10-minutes-long concert, with six encores?
Let’s put it this way, the marathon display of funky, fun music and dancing wasn’t for the weakhearted.
In the first show of his first multi-city Canadian trek since 2002, Prince just couldn’t seem to stop.
Appearing from beneath his mammoth in-the-round stage in the shape of his famous symbol - all lit up in different colors as the evening progressed - the 53-year old musician took a good 35 minutes before he even strapped on his guitar.
Instead, he preferred to bust some major James Brown-like dance moves for the show’s first half-hour, briefly dipping into hits like Pop Life but definitely favouring extended jams.
“Toronto I have a question,” said Prince early in the show. “Are you feeling good?”
They roared their approval early and often.
About 14,000 fans, many dressed in purple, were able to see Prince in all his sparkly haired glory decked out in a flowing black top, pants, heels, sunglasses and a chunky necklace on large rectangular screens above him while those sitting at circular tables on the floor got a much closer look.
But he’s not totally without weakness.
You could also see the various teleprompters with song lyrics all around the stage.
Backed by a mostly female group of musicians and singers, save for his drummer and sax player Maceo Parker, Prince also covered such ‘80s hits as The Cars’ Let’s Go and Michael Jackson’s Don’t Stop Till You Get Enough, alongside his own chartoppers like Take Me With U, Raspberry Beret, and Cream.
And for a cover of The Time’s Cool, The Purple One dragged about 20 people from the crowd up on stage with him to dance while he himself jumped on his purple piano. (He would do this again during his cover of The Time’s The Bird and Jungle Love and Wild Cherry’s Play That Funky Music during the third encore).
Then things slowed down considerably as he gave one of his female backup singers the lead vocal on a cover of The Beatles’ Yesterday before taking over himself with another female backup singer on his own Nothing Compares To U, famously covered by Sinead O’ Connor.
But, it didn’t take him long to revert back to the big dance hits like Let’s Go Crazy, Delirious, 1999, an extended version of Little Red Corvette and U Got the Look, before he disappeared beneath the stage for his first costume change into a high collared gold smock top with a new diamond necklace.
He expertly wielded a guitar for his signature song, Purple Rain, which prompted the explosion of purple confetti towards the end of the tune during his solo and then a major crowd singalong.
For the first encore, Prince - in his third outfit of the night, a white tunic with ties and black and white pants - kicked things off with Kiss, and then disappeared briefly to appear back in front of his piano for the second encore featuring a medley of When Doves Cry, Sign O’ The Times, The Most Beautiful Girl In the World, Hot Thing, I Would Die For You, and If I Was Your Girlfriend.
The third encore began slowly with Sometimes It Snows in April before another communal crowd dance on stage.
Then, unbelievably, it was onto encores four, five and six.
At some point, you started to wonder if Prince would ever leave.
Before fans were allowed inside the arena, Prince did a late soundcheck and someone in building shouted out: “Love You Prince!”
He screamed back: “Not as much as I love you!”
Prince certainly showed T.O. a lot of love on Friday night. And then some.