March 24/25 @ Brabanthallen
March 25/26 @ Paradiso
Part 1: Brabanthallen (regular concert)
Picture this ….. 25 years ago!
Definitely my favorite Prince tour of all times. 1995 …… Prince was angry (at Warner Brothers) and that was noticeable: but more about that later. Friday March 24th, I was already off to Den Bosch in the early evening, check in at the hotel, dropping my stuff, a quick bite and immediately heading for Brabanthallen with a taxi; don’t feel like figuring out how those buses run here. Prince will play his first concert of a very unique tour tonight, so hurry up (I didn’t have a ticket for that night ….. huh ?! What?). When I arrived at the hall, one could listen in on the outside. I already heard some wonderful trax …. Pussy Control, Loose, Peach, Get Wild ….. Yammie! But then ….. a door on the side smashed opened; visitors came out angry …. for the time being I did not understand. What is going on? Upon inquiry, it turned out that people left the concert earlier because he did not play any old hits … eeeh, yes duuuuh! And for every concert goer who left the arena early, someone from outside was admitted, free of charge. However, I did not want to waste my fun the next day with songs that I already saw here. Moreover, I was always convinced that I could only see one concert of each tour, otherwise it would no longer be special enough in my experience. Well, maybe that’s a little twist in my head ….. don’t bother to comment. And incidentally, one could follow it very clearly outside because the door remained open. Far more important, we had decided with a group to wait for Prince behind the hall, where the limousine was at the ready. After the finale of the new song Gold Prince and Mayte came out pretty quickly, and us waving with a handful of fans. And he waved back ….. well, that was already a pretty nice ending of this day.
The next morning, at the crack of dawn, I arrived at the hall at about 6:30 am. A handful of fanatics were already waiting there from the night before. Oh well, if I just get into the podium box in the front, I’m fine with everything. And it worked. But I didn’t know that then, with many hours of waiting still ahead. During the day, I came across a circle of friends I’d already met with ticket sales the month before. No, nothing online ….. back then, we just bought our concert ticket at the post office, tourist office or the Nieuwe Muziekhandel on the Leidsestraat. And you also had to be there early in the night if you wanted to score. Ticket sales were usually on a Saturday, so normally, you’d go out the night before, dance in a club and go straight to the Leidsestraat. With a bit of luck, the music store would open at 8:00 am instead of the usual 10:00 am. Walking out the door with a ticket meant some sort of ultimate feeling that you had made it. You did alright, buddy. You did good! Hahaha. Anyway ….. funny actually, considering the fact that the concerts were never sold out afterwards; many fans already quit by the hassle of his name change in 1993, his ongoing arguments with the record company and the announcement that he would absolutely not play top hits from his old catalog on this tour. As a real fan, you didn’t care a hoot about all that, but the average fan already dropped out when he changed his appearance to the unpronounceable symbol.
Fortunately, we were offered a tracking number during the day. This meant that you could move about freely, despite the fact that the first few hundred concertgoers were grouped behind the infamous crowd barriers, an absolute must in the Netherlands. There were plenty of cheeky monkeys that arrived late in the afternoon, and still thought: oh, there are a lot of people before me, so I’m just going to crawl in front ….. yeah right, not in my world honey, so beat it.
Anyway, a lot of freedom of movement, Mojo always arranged that very well. Those guys understood us fans. So hanging in the car a lot (of those friends), listening to music, walking around a bit and especially a lot of uneasiness that day ….. because Prince had announced that he also wanted a nightly adventure in Paradiso / Amsterdam. Damn! One sexy motherfucker already had an SMS phone (you were very hip if you had those already) and thanks to that device she was able to warn her mother who arranged 1 ticket for her. Lucky devil. The tickets for Paradiso were sold that day in Den Bosch for 700 guilders (40 guilders original, so 17 1/2 times the original price!). I couldn’t do much out there, since a 4G subscription and iPhone had a long way to go before anyone ever heard of it. I was more concentrated getting in the box safely. The box meant a spacious place at the front of the stage where a closed area with surrounding gates, one could run around freely and dance with a few hundred other fans. My favorite place was always reasonably in the back of the box, nice and quiet, because everyone was crowding for a place near the stage … and behind you, everyone for a place at the front of the fence behind the box. While they were squashed there, I had meters of space. And you had a nice overview there, you saw the whole stage and the music came to you wonderfully nuanced, not that bombastic when you were standing in front near a box, for example.
First, we are treated for a while to some trax through the PA system from the Exodus CD that would be released a few days later and the Purple Medley, strikingly enough a collection of old hits put in a new jacket, specially mixed by Warners for this concert series. Zero exciting is a term I’d like to use here. Now, let the games begin ……
Prince is dead! is the running theme of the evening and is often quoted by the master …. Prince does not play any old trax on this tour, only new material from the new era of 1993/1994. Not looking for a purple banana in an elevator, crying pigeons or strangely colored rain. His displeasure was evident not only from the word “Slave” on his cheek but also through the blissfully dirty guitar work: Endorphinmachine, The Jam, Shhh, The Ride, Peach, Race, Gold ….. what a delightful concert. In retrospect, it was said that the hall was cooking more on the second evening than the night before. Very few artists manage to draw such a full house with so little known material; all in all it was a daring experiment. And luckily I can say: I was there. Wonderful memories!
Part 2: Paradiso (aftershow)
Girl 6 I spoke about earlier, who managed to get a ticket for Paradiso (first night), did not know where Paradiso was located in Amsterdam. So, with my facilitating inkling yet still stupid, I offered to show her the exact location. That is what you do as a good citizen of Amsterdam, right? Get a taste of the atmosphere, I thought very optimistic. Nevertheless, it was not that good a move. Arriving at the hall, after the long train ride from Den Bosch, and then not be able to enter …. not so cool. Tickets changed owners like hot frikandel sandwiches, for sky-high prices. Luckily, I was tired of the whole day, early awakening, a lot of waiting, concert ….. It’s fine like this. Go home, to bed. And a good choice afterwards, as it turned out that Prince didn’t start this show until 4:00 am.
The next day I heard on the local news channel AT5: Prince apparently likes it in Paradiso because he is playing again tonight. What the Funk?! (well, there was no internet back then). So hop hop, get dressed and get on your bike! And what happens on arrival? There is always something magical surrounding Prince, something mystical, it always works out one way or another. Tickets were again sold for regal prizes. A bit less daring than the day before though, but still …. But this time I saw a buddy of mine from the UK. His girlfriend was ill at the hotel and he had a ticket left. Oh yeah! Gimme that! And so I got inside the second evening for -indeed- just 40 guilders. The way it should be … ha!
I found this second show in Paradiso significantly better and more entertaining than the first. It was almost only fans this evening, so the audience participation was much more evident. Prince was so impressed, asking if he could bring the Warners executives so they could listen to this choir ……
While the first aftershow (day before) leaned a bit more towards his funk work, at this 2nd show the guitar was pulled again. With once again a leading role reserved for Peach, I think it’s just a great song when played live. He can do this one in any set as far as I’m concerned. Furthermore, delightful versions of The Jam, Zannalee, The Undertaker, Endorphinmachine and a wonderfully uplifting cover of Jailhouse Rock. Completely different and long-drawn-out versions of these well-known tracks are pulled out of his high hat. This show is labeled as mythical in the Paradiso chronicles and therefore ends up at number 1 (!) In the 50 most legendary concerts of Paradiso. Just sayin’ …. !
This story contains an accompanying video. Click on the following link to see it: Video: Prince 1995 Ultimate Live Experience in Holland (by guest author Edward). The A Pop Life playlist on Spotify has been updated as well.
Prince, Brabanthallen, Den Bosch, Holland, 1995 image: nme.com
The Artist Formerly Known As Prince 03/26-27/1995 concert ticket Edward image: Edward Gubbels