"Don't worry, I won't hurt you," intoned a thundering electronic voice, announcing funk/punk star Prince's arrival onstage last night. "I only want you to have some fun."
Appearing in a flash of klieg lights and smoke on a gleaming, tiered high-tech set at the sold-out Starplex-Armory, the mercurial, multi-talented Prince ran a show staged and choreographed as tightly as his many costumes fit. Onstage he was a blend of bantamweight and ballerina, now prowling across the high banks of speakers, now a kind of funk Liberace in an electronic cocktail lounge.
Prince's trademark stuttering beat dominated the heavily textured, highly polished music, a supercharged synthesis of straight-ahead rock, nervous new wave and propulsive funk, with a few sci-fi/horror film sound tracks tossed in the stew. His voice was as acrobatic as his stage antics, leaping from a supple growl to a flight of falsetto.
The singer capitalized on his androgynous image in a shocking, unforgettable finale, in which he performed a stylized striptease after a brass bed arose from the stage, silhouetted against blazing red blinds.
Prince's many personae were mirrored in the performances of his prote'ge' acts, The Time and Vanity Six, which opened the show with sassy pop and precise, funny stage moves.