Glam Jam // Once again, Prince is doing things his way

  • Article by: JON BREAM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: August 9, 1999 - 11:00 PM

The glow on Ted Kellogg's face was as bright as his iridescent spring-green shirt. He's North Dakota's No. 1 Prince fan, and he had just seen his hero in concert for the first time. Two hours later, he was still beaming.

"I can't believe the energy he's got - what, at 39?" said Kellogg, 27, over some post-concert waffles.

Some Fargoans might not believe Kellogg, who has "NPG" - short for New Power Generation, Prince 's band and record label - on the license plates of his Cadillac and a $180 NPG hero jacket. "I saw him once at his store in Uptown a now-closed Minneapolis boutique. He walked that far from me," he said, holding his hands 4 inches apart, "and that got my heart pumping pretty good."

Prince 's unlikely performance Monday night at the Fargodome got hearts, fists and pocketbooks pumping. On his current Jam of the Year World Tour, the Chanhassen-based star has been visiting all kinds of major cities from Indianapolis to Minneapolis (where he plays tonight and Thursday at Target Center) - but Fargo?

You betcha. Maybe fans don't know how to pronounce the glyph he has adopted as his name, but on his driver's license the surname is Nelson, you know. He can play in Fargo.

"I jumped up and down when they announced the concert," said Maggie Jordan, 25, a hairdresser in Grand Forks, N.D. "We were outside at 6 in the morning waiting for tickets even though there was a lottery. We froze, but it was worth it." After the concert, Jordan and her sister-in-law were clutching more than $100 worth of Prince souvenirs. "We came to see Prince , and Christmas can go bye-bye," Jordan said. "If I could go to Minneapolis to see him, I would, but I've got to work."

Mark Kubas, another first-time Prince concertgoer, did his own freaky hip-hop dance as Prince and his band encored with a superfunky jam. Afterward, the 23-year-old graphic artist from Winnipeg, Manitoba, was hyped. "It was everything I expected and more," he said. "If I'd die tomorrow, I'd die a happy man."

Doing it his way

"I Would Die 4 U," "When Doves Cry," "Darling Nikki" - Prince performed just about everything from "Purple Rain," the 1984 album and movie that made him famous.

"Far-GOOOO," Prince shouted. "Raise your hands, y'all."

He must have mentioned Far-GOOOO, or North Dakota, at least a dozen times each during his 130 minutes onstage. "I'm from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Yaaah," he said with his best Scandahoovian accent. "Where I come from, we get fonnnky."

Prince compensated, knowing he was in the hometown of blues-rock star Jonny Lang (now of Roseville), who's probably sold more albums this year than the Twin Cities' best-known artist. "You're funky, Reverend Scott," the bandleader shouted to his guitarist at one point. "But we're in North Dakota, so I need a little bit of rock 'n' roll." Scott accommodated with a rip-roaring solo.

Prince 's band was tight, well-drilled and funky, and the star himself was in fine form, heavy on flashy showmanship and short on instrumental depth, though he took brief solos on various instruments. The show became sort of a Cliff's Notes recap of why Prince became one of the giants of pop music in the 1980s.

Even though Prince often performs late at night at Paisley Park Studios in Chanhassen for invited guests, he hasn't played an advertised arena concert in the Twin Cities since the super-elaborate and financially disastrous Lovesexy Tour opened at the now-defunct Met Center in Bloomington in 1988. By contrast, the Jam of the Year Tour is low-frills. Just about every aspect of the tour defies conventional music-industry practices, but Prince always has done it his way.

For instance, the Fargo show was announced the day before Thanksgiving, with tickets going on sale the following Monday - just a week before the concert. The crowd of 7,114 filled only half the Fargodome. "There wasn't enough notice or advertising," said Colin Blaine, 32, who plays guitar in a heavy-metal band but owns piles of Prince discs.

Most artists go on tour when a new album is released. Prince didn't start touring until eight months after issuing his landmark three-disc "Emancipation" in November 1996 - and, coincidentally, a month after the record's distributor, EMI, went out of business. Surprisingly, Prince 's show Monday featured only two songs from "Emancipation," which, in numerous interviews, he has said is his best album.

Yes, the usually press-shy Prince did interviews on television and in newspapers and magazines last year to promote "Emancipation" - the most extensive media campaign of his 19-year career. For the tour, he has been having journalists fax him questions and he faxes back answers. Through his New York-based publicist, he agreed to such an arrangement with the Star Tribune. The questions were faxed last week; the responses never came. "Some things I can't control," publicist Frances Pennington said Monday.

One aspect of his tour that Prince is trying to control is scalpers. People who purchase the highest-priced tickets - $45 in Fargo and Minneapolis - receive vouchers that they exchange for tickets at the box office the night of the concert. This system has reportedly caused lobby logjams at some arenas on the tour.

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