INDIO, Calif. – "Coachella, I am here." Prince hit the stage at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival with that announcement, heralding his arrival as the much-anticipated headliner of the summer festival.
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Shortly after 11 p.m. Saturday, Prince strutted onto the stage wearing white pants and a white shirt with glittery fringe. His performance, the centerpiece of the three-day festival, was announced only two weeks ago, immediately making an already very hip festival of 125-plus bands significantly more in-demand.
And Prince knew it.
"You are the coolest place on earth right now!" Prince declared to a sea of tens of thousands.
Prince, who had been sought out to perform at Coachella since the festival was founded nine years ago, told the crowd that when he agreed to perform, he informed the organizers that he would not only play, but party too.
True to his word, Prince then launched his band — complete with a horn section and background singers — into "Jungle Love." Morris Day came out to sing his song, while Prince strolled around the stage with his guitar.
For the beginning of the show, Prince preferred to let his guitar do the talking. He also welcomed the singer and drummer Sheila E, who took the lead for a song and then joined Prince in an extended jam.
Finally, Prince satisfied the crowd with a celebratory performance of "1999." His classic "Little Red Corvette" soon followed.
One of the big surprises of Prince's concert was his cover of Radiohead's "Creep," which was sure to be one of Coachella's most talked-about performances. With some lyrics adjusted, a ripping guitar solo and extended falsetto crooning for a finale, Prince's "Creep" had the crowd slack-jawed.
To close the set, he gave another unique take on a song not his own: the Beatles' "Come Together." He urged the audience — whom he called his "choir" — to sing "Come together, yeah" over and over.
And just as trepidation was beginning to take hold in the crowd that Prince might actually leave without playing "Purple Rain," he returned to confirm that even in the desert, it could rain purple.
Even after the encore, though, he came back for more.
"They're telling me that we got to go, but I can't leave!" Prince shouted. He then flew through a torrid version of "Let's Go Crazy."
Prince had widely been considered the one act most all concertgoers — a diverse 60,000 of indie rockers, electronica dancers and pop fans — were certain to see. And by the end of "Let's Go Crazy," Prince had seemed to put his stamp on Coachella lore.
"From now on, this is Prince's house," he shouted before triumphantly strutting off stage and tossing his guitar 30 feet behind him.