PrinceLa Zona Rosa, March 16
Prince's SXSW appearance, courtesy of Samsung, threatened all the markings of a phoned-in corporate gig: a strong hour that rewarded with selected hits, but still only teased. Then the first of six encores launched just after 1am and carried the party for two more hours. The Purple One, ageless at 54, not only washed away the impact of A Tribe Called Quest's opening set, but also much of the week before. At the start, backed by the 22-piece, horn-maxed New Power Generation, Prince emerged to the estimated 1,000-strong audience and quickly rolled into "1999," complete with a climax confetti blast. "Shhh" hushed the remodeled venue before "Musicology" and "Extraloveable" revived the dance floor to prepare main-set closer "Purple Rain." Then the encores commenced, a two-hour funk fest that turned in Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," Curtis Mayfield's "We're a Winner," "The Glamorous Life," "U Got the Look," and Morris Day & the Time's "Jungle Love." The superbly tight backing felt nearly improvised as Prince worked tirelessly across the stage. "I don't want to hurt you, Austin. You know how many hits I got?" he warned, but there was no stopping 'til he'd bruised the city purple.