When music icon Prince announced he’d be performing three consecutive shows in Chicago at the United Center as part of his two-year tour “Welcome 2 America,” the fan community and Chicagoans welcomed the news with showers of praise. But controversy has floated around the first concert of the three-night extravaganza, and it is centering on “the Purple One” himself.
The bad news began the night of Sept. 24, when an audience of fans and attendees anxiously waited for Prince to open his show. It was supposed to have begun at 9 p.m. According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, he and his band hadn’t appeared on the United Center stage for almost an hour after the show was supposed to begin.
Shortly after the bewildering lateness, Prince and his band finally took the stage as planned. One attendee of the first show in Chicago, Shonda Dudlicek, offered an alternate description of what happened.
“I don’t understand how everyone said he was late. When I go to a concert, I expect that the time listed on the ticket is when the opening act will come on and that the headline won’t come on until at least an hour or later. That’s the way it’s always been,” she says.
According to Chicago Now Magazine, Prince’s band members were rehearsing backstage and the funk legend himself was hiding in an undisclosed location. Additionally, there were a couple of people in the audience who began to shout profanities and even booed, before Prince took the stage.
“Like with any big show or any big artist, Prince was there. He was just a little late getting on stage,” according to Live Nation event coordinator Megan McKenna. “Things happen. … I believe there were some technical things going on from their end that they were dealing with.”
One other bewildering moment took many attendees by surprise. According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, when Prince’s official set ended — with an assortment of funk-drenched hits, medleys and covers — he decided to do an encore with two more songs. The only issue, however, was that he waited too long to take the stage and half of the audience had already left.
“It did suck that we had to wait so long, and that he didn’t come back on until the lights came up,” said Dudlicek. “Normally that’s a cue that the show is over, and everyone knows that. If there was a problem with the personnel, it should’ve been communicated.”
Nevertheless, the first show of the “Welcome to Chicago” series proved a mixed blessing for many, who expected the main attraction to be precise and focused. As Live Nation event coordinator Megan McKenna stated, “Prince gives an actual show … He did apologize for the lateness, but I think that people made it bigger than what it actually was.”