April 27, 2008 / 3:22 PM / 10 years ago

Prince rolls out hits, covers at rare U.S. fest gig

PALM DESERT, California (Billboard) - In a rare U.S. festival appearance, Prince closed the second night of the Coachella festival Saturday, dusting off golden oldies like “1999” and “Little Red Corvette,” and covering tunes by the Beatles and Radiohead.

Prince performs at the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, California April 26, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Prince took the stage at the Empire Polo Field in Indio nearly 30 minutes behind schedule, declaring: “Coachella, I am here.” Playing well past midnight, he also thrilled fans with “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Purple Rain,” among others.

After collaborations with Morris Day (“Jungle Love”) and Sheila E (“Glamorous Life”), he ventured into covers of Radiohead’s “Creep” and the Beatles’ “Come Together.”

Prince, who had been a rumored Coachella headliner for several years, has just one other date on his upcoming schedule: a June 16 show at Dublin’s Croke Park. He was a late addition to the Coachella lineup, and was reportedly paid about $4.8 million to bolster a lineup viewed as relatively uninspired by Coachella veterans.

Earlier in the evening, rock act Death Cab For Cutie laid the groundwork for Prince’s appearance. Toward the end of the band’s set, lead singer Ben Gibbard joked with the audience, asking, “Are you guys excited for Prince? He’ll be arriving soon in his purple helicopter.” Death Cab tested new songs from its upcoming album “Narrow Stairs,” due May 13, including “I Will Possess Your Heart.” The group also played older cuts “Soul Meets Body,” “the New Year” and Why You’d Want to Live Here.”

Warming the stage for Prince as the 100-degree Fahrenheit (38 degrees Celsius) weather cooled, Portishead didn’t fail to set the mood its with eerie trip-hop. The reunited Britain act used Coachella as the launch pad for “Third,” its first studio album in more than a decade. The band previewed new song “Machine Gun,” as well as older material “Sour Times” and “Wandering Stars” from its 1994 debut album “Dummy.”

Other noteworthy performances on day two came from German electronic act Kraftwerk, which turned out “Autobahn” and “Computer Love” on the main stage; bass-heavy Brazilian electro rock act Bonde do Role, who brought the party to the Gobi tent with the catchy “Marina Gasolina”; indie rock act MGMT, playing spacey material from its debut album “Oracular Spectacular”; and U.K. producer-of-the-moment Mark Ronson, who recruited a number of artists (including Kaiser Chiefs vocalist Ricky Wilson) to help round out his set at the Outdoor Theatre.

Coachella wraps Sunday with a headlining performance by former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters.


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