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Prince Awesome at Roosevelt Opener

POP MUSIC REVIEW

Prince charming at the Roosevelt

For fervid fans, it was a fantasy come true: an intimate night with the pop star (for an eye-popping

By Ann Powers, Times Staff Writer
THERE are shows, and then there's the pop fantasy realized. Having Prince practically sit in your lap as he takes a guitar solo midway through his debut at the Roosevelt Hotel? As the credit-card commercials say: Priceless.

Eyebrows have been raised over the exorbitant ticket prices for the artist's seven nights of shows, billed as "3121 Live," at the Hollywood hot spot $3,121.00 for dinner and tickets for two; move the decimal point one space to the left and you've got a standing-room spot but once the funk-rock maestro hit the stage Saturday, all questions of money melted away.

The 200 beautiful people perched on couches or crowded into the corners of the lush Blossom Room had purchased the right to forget that Prince was there to do his job. Arena shows are often so rote; the chance to see one of the great arena-level musicians playing in an intimate (and, therefore, casual) setting was as rare as getting a soft seat at Staples Center, and it needed to feel that way.

Prince knows this. Always one of the hardest-working if most unpredictable men in show business, he's recently figured out a way to reinvigorate the live experience for himself and his audience.

His trick has been to transform often denigrated gigs the Vegas run, the hotel engagement into rare opportunities. He squashed the idea that appearing at a casino is for has-beens with his recent tour de force at the Rio; now, he's reclaiming a space once reserved for wedding bands and also-rans and making it a private domain where royals play.

On Saturday, he began his set sniffing a flower and ended by triumphantly throwing down the microphone. In between, he performed a few hits ("Kiss," a hard rock version of "U Got the Look") but mostly concentrated on getting his powerhouse band in the pocket on material that stayed funky even when it simmered down to a slow jam.

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