Actor, writer and comedian Rob AndristPlourde and his wife Cheryl saw Prince play a secret show at the 1,500-seat Melkweg in Amsterdam, after a mass killing in Norway and Amy Winehouse’s death. Favorite line of this story: “The show was a positive symbol of positive choices made during awful times.”
“Our kids fly to America to spend summer vacation with their grandparents in Ohio. Their trip gives my wife and me six weeks of kids-free living. The first day is a combination of sadness and liberation: from tearful goodbyes at the airport to eating chicken naked in the living room. This night in 2011 (which turned into early morning) was the most memorable yet.
After the traditional watching of their plane taking off from the observation deck, Cheryl and I hit the liquor store, made dinner, watched a depressing movie and got ready for an early night. She was brushing her teeth while I was on the Facebook. My friend Diego wrote on my timeline: PRINCE IS PLAYING THE MELKWEG TONIGHT! TICKETS ON SALE IN 20 MINUTES. EUR100 PER TICKET CASH ONLY!
Holy shit. First, let me lay down some perspective of the global mindset at the time: Two days earlier, a Norwegian gunman killed 77 people, mostly young students. The following day, Amy Winehouse died. Tragedies. All of Europe and the world mourned. Grey like an Amsterdam summer.
Prince was scheduled to play Norway that weekend, but the show was cancelled. After Norway, he was going to do a five-night arena stand in the Netherlands. Prince loved Holland so much that he planned an official, secret, warmup show in Rotterdam before the weeklong stint. But because of the Norwegian cancellation, he did a secret show the day before the secret show.
I told Cheryl. We stared at each other wordlessly for five seconds and then went into action: I walked the dog and she got even more pretty. We got on our bikes and hauled ass to the Melkweg—as did 2,000 people who were waiting outside for the possibility of tickets. They had been on sale at the box office for ten minutes. Our Melkweg friends told everyone, “zero possibility for guest list.” We still got in line. We had a secret weapon.
Now, Facebook is a great social media tool for communication: It means that birthdays get remembered, news gets distributed and friends see other friends’ posts. It also meant that two minutes after I read Diego’s post about PRINCE IS PLAYING THE MELKWEG TONIGHT! our friend Christina saw it. She read it at a bar that is two minutes’ walking distance from Melkweg. She was first in line in sixty seconds.
Christina texted us and said she had us covered. She had debit-carded for the tickets (the box office accidentally processed Christina’s transaction and her tickets were the only ones electronically bought that evening). She was inside with tickets. We were outside but we’re definitely going in. Toni Morrison wrote “happiness is anticipation with certainty.” That was us.
Midnight, and the Melkweg announced over the outside PA system for all non-ticketholders to leave. The ones with connections inside could wait. We did. For a while. But we got in. Smiles everywhere and everyone was jacked. It was 1am. It was funky. It was the Melkweg (in English “the Milky Way”), a former milk factory turned concert hall that seats 1,500 people—one of the best places to see a concert in all of the Netherlands.
Prince played covers and nearly no huge hits, save for a slowed-down Little Red Corvette. He did Flashlight, Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf) and Amy Winehouse’s Love is a Losing Game.
“We aren’t teenagers. Let’s act like it,” he commanded. Everyone put their camera phones down and danced. The show was a positive symbol of positive choices made during awful times. Prince was being relevant and very contemporary.
Magic happened so we could see Prince that morning. The best of horrible events unfolded and intertwined into a powerful couple of hours. It could be said Prince made a mad cash grab. Yet he put out. He worked. He absolutely had us all the whole morning (1:30-4:30am). Everyone was worked out. I’d love to be able to do it again.
To paraphrase the Internet: We live on a rock that is 4 billion years old in a universe that is much older, so we should feel lucky that we all were around to share the life we have now with him.