Despite controversy over funding, artist selection, ticket sales and even the promotion of the event, the Hong Kong Harbourfest successfully opened Friday night when Prince thrilled the near capacity audience with a flawless set.
Dressed in a red dress shit and white suit, the Minneapolis native simply announced "I am Prince and I play guitar" before launching into "Let's Go Crazy", "I Would Die For You" and "When Doves Cry", all off the "Purple Rain" album. Many attendees applauded this song selection, as it signified that the show would be dominated by the singer's hits instead of the more obscure jazz influenced selection of his recent tours.
But Prince, who often raced from the piano to his guitar with ease, did have to work the crowd, as fans familiar with his hits may have seemed surprised to hear the rarely heard "D.M.S.R" and "Let's Break". Only later, when a cover of "Soul Man" gave way to "Kiss" and "Take Me With You", did audiences truly let loose. After twenty plus songs, the audience was treated to a single encore: a note perfect emotion filled rendition of "Purple Rain".
While the near capacity crowd at the Tamar Site went home, nearly two hundred fans were treated to a private performance by Prince at Hong Kong's small club "The Edge". There, an hour of hot guitar fuelled funk assured fans that no matter what the venue, when Prince is in top form, he's still a force to be reckoned with.
If Prince opened the Harbourfest with the proverbial bang, Craig David's R&B dominated performance on Saturday was a success as well, according to attendees.
Dressed in a white sweatsuit ensemble, David knew how to work the crowd too, even though that crowd was only estimated at about 3,000 attendees. Such a sparse turnout has raised questions amongst the local Hong Kong media and politicians about whether the estimated $130 million HK spent for the Harbourfest could have been used more effectively in some other manner.
The near month long Harbourfest, created to announce to the world that Hong Kong has fully bounced back from the SARS virus, will continue this week with performances on Monday night by Jose Carreras and Charlotte Church, as well as t.A.T.U., Atomic Kitten and local phenoms "Twins" on Friday.
Review By: Scott Murphy