Prince Surprises L.A.

DVD release party features hour-long instrumental set

August 19, 2003 12:00 AM ET

Prince celebrated the release of his new DVD, Prince Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas, with a secret show at B.B. King's in Universal City, California, last night.

Joined in the 600-capacity club by a trim ensemble featuring bassist Rhonda Smith, drummer John Blackwell, keyboardist Renato Neto and saxaphonist Eric Leeds, Prince played his latest album, N.E.W.S., in its entirety, as well as with the song "Shhh."

Composed of four fourteen-minute jazz instrumentals -- "North," "East," "West," and "South," -- Prince's latest work reveals him to be warming to the role of bandleader in the traditional sense.

Last night, clad in a purple suit with a black shirt and tie, he approached his hour-long performance like splatter painting -- a little piano here, a little guitar there -- and occasionally stepped to the side of the stage mid-song to sip some bottled water and listen to his band play. Once he left the stage mid-jam and went upstairs into the V.I.P. area, took a seat near the balcony, talked with friends, sometimes casually peering down to see what the band was up to.

At no time did Prince sing or speak to the crowd, confining his communication to hand signals -- a finger to the lips during the saxophone solo in "Shh!", a nod of his guitar to the B.B. King logo above the stage during a guitar solo.

Toward the end of the show, an increasingly frustrated audience began to chant "Sing!"

But Prince didn't. When it was over, he flashed a peace sign to the crowd and disappeared.

Prince Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas Track List:

Pop Life
Money Don't Matter 2 Night/The Work
Push and Pull
Strollin'/U Want Me
Gotta Broken Heart Again
Strange Relationship
Pass the Peas
Whole Lotta Love
Family Name
Take Me With U
The Everlasting Now
Sometimes It Snows in April/The Ride

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