30 years ago, the best show I ever witnessed

Parade Tour BW (princevault.com)


1986 was an important year. I turned 20 years old, moved to Amsterdam into a (spaceous) flat. I bought my first cd-player and on August 18th I went to a concert that would resound for years to come: Prince & The Revolution at Ahoy Rotterdam.

News overview 1986 (apoplife.nl)

News overview 1986

What happened in the world in 1986?

The biggest doom of the early eighties was slowly fading. Unemployment records were going down. Ever so slightly, but down nevertheless. No future seemed to be more nuanced than before. There were, however, enough worries:

  • Ronald Reagan was President of the US;
  • The Chernobyl disaster at the end of April made the danger of nuclear energry more palpable for a lot of people;
  • The Challenger disaster; images of the exploding Space shuttle went (live) around the world (the disaster inspired Prince to writing Sign O’ The Times);
  • Early February Swedish prime minister Olof Palme was assassinated;
  • The Brain-virus emerges, the first computervirus in history. It spread through disks.


Also in 1986: Argentina becomes World Champion Football and computer network NSFNet is put into operation (what proved to be an indespensable link in, eventually,  utilising commercial internet connections).


Albums 1986 (apoplife.nl)

Albums 1986

What happened in the music world in 1986?

Besides the absolutely top album Parade by Prince, a great number of other favourites were released that year: The Smiths The Queen Is Dead, Beastie Boys Licensed To Ill, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Live 1975-85, Nick Cave Kicking Against The Pricks, Janet Jackson Control, Public Image Ltd. Album and David Sylvian Gone to Earth. Some Dutch bands also released great albums, in particular The Fatal Flowers Younger Days en Claw Boys Claw With Love From The Boys.

The Clash, Dead Kennedys and Wham! quit in 1986.

Singles 1986 (apoplife.nl)

Singles 1986

What was my world like in 1986?

d' Witte Leli (marktplaats.nl)

d’ Witte Leli

I was a student in Amsterdam at d’Witte Leli (trying to become a teacher). The first half of the year I still lived at home with my parents and I commuted by train daily to and from Amsterdam. I went out a lot and played music all day and all night. Still listening to a lot of Japan, David Sylvian, Joy Division, Bauhaus, etc., however ever since May 1984 (upon first hearing When Doves Cry) Prince was becoming, more and more, a defining factor in my (musical) life. In 1985 I bought the (then still revolutionary and expensive) compact-disc Around The World In A Day (no player yet, but that didn’t matter then). For my 20th birthday I got the (then just released) singles Kiss by Prince & The Revolution and A Love Bizarre by Sheila E (which is ‘just another’ Prince song). At the end of March Parade was released. I also bought the compact disc of Parade. The cd-player came into my house later that year).

What happened before August 18th, 1986?

VVV Alkmaar (apoplife.nl)

VVV Alkmaar

Mid July came the big news: Prince would come to the Netherlands for the first time since 1981. Dutch music magazine Oor just printed Hij komt! (He will come!) on the cover. But it was not just an announcement; he would be there within a month! Presale started on August 1st 1986. Together  with friend Martin, I went to the Dutch tourist office (VVV) at the town of Alkmaar, early in the morning. Actual presale started at 09:00 and, with great relief, we were able to secure 8 tickets; two of them Arena (standing) tickets.

Every major newspaper and music magazine published articles before the great event. Every music lover in the Netherlands couldn’t wait for Prince to arrive. The genaral tenor, however, was: seeing he actually emerges on the stage of Ahoy, is believing.


What happened on August 18th, 1986 at Ahoy Rotterdam?

Prince & The Revolution 18-08-1986 poster (apoplife.nl)

Prince & The Revolution 18-08-1986 poster

Because Martin and I purchased the tickets and managed to acquire two Arena tickets, it was decided that we should use the Arena tickets. Close to the stage on the right hand side (Wendy’s side!). The stage was obscured by big black curtains.

About 20:30 I heard the distinctive intro to Around The World In A Day becoming louder and louder. The lights switched off, Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Prince & The Revolution! Behind the closed curtain The Revolution started. Open your heart, open your mind… First refrain: curtains closed, second stanza curtains still closed. Second refrain: curtains fly open: Ahoy explodes. The Revolution at full strength and the undispured center Prince who seemd to be in the mood for a great evening.

What followed was a soulrevue, wherein Prince strung multiple songs together in extremely funky medleys and directed the band. The concentration of every member of The Revolution stood out. Not one moment did they let Prince out of their sight, for the smallest hand signal meant playing a certain coda or certain riff. With On the one! and Good God! the machine was effortlessly stopped and started. I was completely overwhelmed. I heard he was good, but this seemed to come from a completely different galaxy..

When, after the first half hour and the genius-like medley of Raspberry Beret / Delirious / Controversy / A Love Bizarre, the first moment for catching a breath came with Do Me Baby, overwhelmed was putting it (very) midly. What he did vocally was inimitable: so good, so perfect, so pure, so full of soul and gospel. The ease of dissing out one highlight after the other was something I had never experienced before. And When Doves Cry wasn’t even played yet! Just like all the songs it was played in a different version than the one I knew (something he would persevere until his untimely death) beginning with a nice and quiet build up and getting more and more rousing. The genius just didn’t stop.

Prince & The Revolution 18-08-1986 concertticket (apoplife.nl)

Prince & The Revolution 18-08-1986 concertticket

A little bit later on one of my favourite B-Sides: 17 Days. The arena-lights went on and the party was complete. A great rendition of a great song. Head came next and was extremely funky. Up until 1999 a lot of songs from his latest two releases. America was the first, lengthy, encore. Prince got behind the drumkit and gave a short drumsolo, all kinds of chants were thrown into the Ahoy (The Roof Is On Fire, More Bounce To The Ounce). After Kiss the closer Purple Rain; I witnessed (for the first time) the entire audience singing along to the closing vocal coda of the song, which sounded impressive.

I clearly remember staring open-mouthed at the stage after the concert ended. I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed right before my eyes. The beginning of a life-long admiration was born on this night.


Around The World In A Day / Christopher Tracy’s Parade / New Position / Manic Monday ¹ / I Wonder U / Raspberry Beret / Delirious / Controversy / A Love Bizarre / Do Me, Baby / (How Much Is) That Doggie In The Window? / Lady Cab Driver (instrumental) / Automatic / D.M.S.R. / When Doves Cry / Little Red Corvette / Under The Cherry Moon / Anotherloverholenyohead / 17 Days / Head / Pop Life / Girls & Boys / Life Can Be So Nice / 1999

America / Kiss

Encore 2:
Purple Rain

¹ It later turned out that this was the only time The Revolution played this song; a nice touch.


Merchandise stand Parade tour (facebook)

Merchandise stand Parade tour

At the time of writing this story this photo emerged out of nowhere on Facebook. It’s funny how these things work. I recognized it instantly: the red railing, the items, that’s exactly how the merchandise stand at the Ahoy looked like. I bought a t-shirt and a tourbook.

(this photo was shot in Paris, prices are in French francs)

Press reactions to Prince & the Revolution

The Dutch press unanimously praised the concerts. The second show (‘ my’  show) was voted best of the three. Many Dutch artists were also present during the shows. Legend has it that Dutch rock ‘n roller Herman Brood left the Ahoy after half an hour. He couldn’t handle the exceptional level of musicianship and couln’t get a grip on his envy.

Unanimous praise in Dutch press after concerts (OOR)

Unanimous praise in Dutch press after concerts

A selection of Dutch press:

A musical range which the Netherlands has rarely seen. […] Prince in the Netherlands is an unforgettable experience.
Leidser Courant, 18-08-1986

The show ran like a train, the timing was perfect, but still this wasn’t a typical smooth American show; the presentation was too loose for that. […] Prince dares to take musical risks, by not playing safe with a prebaked formula; it shows vision. With dance, music, sex, romance Prince transformed Ahoy into one big boudoir.
de Volkskrant, 18-08-1986

Because the little great man came, saw and conquered […] He was the undisputed Lord and master and effortlessly demanded all attention.
Muziekkrant Oor 17, 23-08-1986

What happened after August 18th, 1986?

Prince bootleg Manic Monday (Rotterdam, 18 augustus 1986) (apoplife.nl)

Prince bootleg Manic Monday (Rotterdam, 18 augustus 1986)

After the concert I immediately bought every missing album and reacted to an advert which offered (cassette) recordings of the concert. I received them on November 17th, 1986 and I (literally) listened them to extinction. For months and months I didn’t listen to anything else than this show. I know every cue, sound, riff, etc by heart. The tape was worn so thin that my tape deck couldn’t play them anymore. Luckily for me, the cd version of the show became available shortly before that moment.

All next shows I saw after this one were measured against this show. Prince himself came dangerously close (in 1988 en 2001), but nothing has surpassed it (yet). Funk optima forma; even Prince himself has never sounded this funky ever again.

For Prince the Dutch concerts were the start of a (long) loving relationship with the Dutch audience. He, relatively, did many shows and aftershows in the Netherlands, which culminated in the TV-recordings in Germany on September 9th, 1988, with Prince specifically requesting to sell tickets to that show primarily in the Netherlands, ensuring a prominently Dutch audience during the Lovesexy show that night.

Six weeks after the August 18th concert The Revolution was disbanded: the end of an extremely fruitful and fertile period in Prince’s career, but also the beginning of a new one: within 5 months Sign O’ The Times was released and 1987 became an unmatched release year. More on that later perhaps.

For now: I will keep on listening to the bootleg recording of the show!



More on Prince?

Prince 1958-2016
Prince song top 50: numbers 50 to 26, 25 to 11 and 10 to 1.



Skip to comment form

    • Zuhal on 08/20/2016 at 10:59 AM
    • Reply

    Wauw ?

    1. 🙂

    • Andre van Alphen on 08/20/2016 at 1:01 PM
    • Reply

    Graag voor mij in Spaans

    1. Spaans? Had Japans verwacht. Bij deze is de Japanse tolk ontslagen. ?

    • Martin van der Meij on 08/20/2016 at 7:11 PM
    • Reply

    I was at the same show. unforgettable!
    I still get chills when I hear Around the world in a day, when the song gets to the point where the curtain falls.

    1. 🙂 me too!

    • Erwin Barendregt on 08/21/2016 at 12:34 AM
    • Reply

    Thank you for sharing!

      • The Beautiful One: Prince Rogers Nelson on 08/21/2016 at 12:35 AM
      • Reply

      You’re very welcome

    • Damein on 08/21/2016 at 1:11 AM
    • Reply

    The Revolution

    1. The Revolution, indeed.

    • Priscilla Mathis on 08/21/2016 at 1:57 AM
    • Reply

    The memories makes things a little better…..thanks for sharing ??☔️☔️?

    1. They do, don’t they? Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Sandy McNutt on 08/21/2016 at 5:56 AM
    • Reply

    I was 25,& listening to him all day!!!!!

    • His Royal Highness on 08/21/2016 at 7:49 AM
    • Reply

    THANKS! And will share it on the front page!!

    1. Thank you! Overwhelmed and humbled. Thank you so much!

  1. Wow, what an amazing experience. Thanks for sharing your story with us, I loved reading about it

    1. You’re (more than) welcome. Enjoyed writing it. Thank you!

    • Niels Plaisier on 08/21/2016 at 12:48 PM
    • Reply

    ja ja memories

    • James on 08/21/2016 at 2:51 PM
    • Reply

    Nice Story, Bro!

    1. You’re welcome! Don’t I know you? I get the feeling you’re not my bro….. ?

    • Cindy Blackwell on 08/21/2016 at 4:37 PM
    • Reply

    This is beautiful. Thank you. Made me feel like I was there with you. I too experienced something similar and since he was taken from us I have showered myself in his music. That is my safe place and where I feel the most love. Real love. He adored us more than we did him and that is why the memories are so rich.

    • Michael Nitschky on 08/21/2016 at 5:48 PM
    • Reply

    Very cool, thanks for sharing!

    1. You’re more than welcome. Thanks so much for your reply!

    • Bonnie Hurst on 08/21/2016 at 11:18 PM
    • Reply

    My favorite concert ever!!

    • Sigrid Maaswinkel on 08/22/2016 at 12:52 AM
    • Reply

    Prachtig geschreven! ????????

    • Mary Solignier on 08/22/2016 at 3:00 AM
    • Reply

    Aug ’86, I was 16 and also went to see Prince for the first time. I went on a different day. My ticket was purple. Si must has been 17 or 19. Very nice to read this. The poster listed in the article also hing on my wall as a memorie that I was there too.?

    1. Still hanging on my wall ?

    • Evelyn Wilson on 08/23/2016 at 8:10 AM
    • Reply

    This is unbelievable. After 30 years the author was able to remember this concert in such detail. What a great experience!!!!

    1. Thanks! It must have shaken me to my core 🙂

    • The one and Oly on 04/04/2017 at 3:15 PM
    • Reply

    Hi there. It´s funny: We are the same age and we made exactly the same experience. The Parade tour was my first one (in Hamburg though) and it got me from the first moment. Although the Sign o the times tour topped it. One nite alone came close and finally in Berlin on the Waldbühne my girlfriend danced with Prince and Sheila E on the stage. Great page – I really enjoy it.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words.
      Parade was never topped for me personally, although the Lovesexy shows and the One Nite Alone tour came very close. Live there was no one like him. Thanks for sharing!

    • Ronnie Ruiz on 04/14/2017 at 8:00 PM
    • Reply

    Great story. Brings me back to seeing that tour in New York 1986.

      • A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt) on 04/14/2017 at 8:04 PM
      • Reply

      It was his greatest tour, I think. Lovesexy and ONA come close, but The Revolution…. wow!

    • Hamish Whitta on 04/15/2017 at 4:49 AM
    • Reply

    Building a time machine in my garage. I’ll meet you there. ..

      • A Pop Life (Erwin Barendregt) on 04/15/2017 at 10:30 AM
      • Reply

      Sure! I’ll be there!

    • Jmweill on 08/19/2017 at 6:18 PM
    • Reply

    My First Prince show was Paris august 25 1986 Best ever witnessed !

    1. The one with the instrumental to It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night? Great! Wish I could have been there!

Compliments/remarks? Yes, please!