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Pop Culture

Stripped-down performance of 'Cream' showcases Prince's pure charisma and musical talent

Even without his signature glitz and glam, Prince was a legendary showman.

prince acoustic cream performance
"Prince NSJ" by PeterTea is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0.

Prince knew how to captivate an audience.

Prince (aka The Artist Formerly Known as Prince) was known for putting on epic performances and wowing audiences.

The problem with musicians who perform with a great deal of flair is that their true talents can sometimes be overshadowed by their showmanship. Some people use glitz, glam and over-the-top staging to mask a lack of musical talent, so flashy performances can lead some to assume that the performer is trying to compensate for unimpressive musicality.

That was not the case with Prince, of course. He was well known for the depth and breadth of his musical abilities across the spectrum—singing, songwriting, multiple instrument playing, producing and more. The list of his music award nominations and wins is still impressive. The guy could do it all.


But one of the greatest proofs of an artist's true talent is to strip a performance down to the simplest basics, and Prince did just that in 2004 at New York's Webster Hall.

To perform his last No.1 hit, "Cream," he sat alone on a stool with just an acoustic guitar. No backup band, no backup singers, no dancers—not even one of his signature flamboyant outfits. It was a performance that could have been an MTV Unplugged video of old, and Prince proved he didn't need anything other than himself and a guitar to fully captivate an audience.

Watch:

The comments highlight how this simple performance made such a profound impact, both on the people in the audience and those of us watching it on video.

"He got the audience eating out of his hands. The ultimate showman. This dude was in a league of his own. Those who got the chance to see him live were truly blessed to have experienced his genius first hand." – Edem Djokotoe

"Only guitarists realize how much skill you need to be able to comfortably play like that...RIP" – attituderoyale

"I absolutely loved Prince's impish sense of humour - a bona fide musical genius and a genuinely funny guy. That to me was something very special." –Raveonette

"Obviously anyone familiar with Prince's work already knows he was an amazing musician, but it's so great to hear him...Bluesify his own song...showing off a level of vocal inflection and guitar style that his hits (as recorded) don't necessarily represent. Damn, he was good!!!" –OmniphonProductions

"Guitar skill aside, Prince was on another level, he could do, and make the audience do, whatever he wanted. Him and Freddie Mercury (to me anyway) are the standard that any live stage performer should aspire to." –D B

There are so many talented musicians and entertaining performers, but there will never be another Prince.

And if you want another reminder of his incredible guitar skills, check out this guitar solo from a group performance of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" from George Harrison's posthumous induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2004:

All photos courtesy of Albertsons
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Warning: This video contains NSFW language.