Monday, March 16, 2015

A Prince of a Show

As a young man growing up in the 80s, I enjoyed Prince’s music, but never really had a desire to see him in concert. That hadn’t changed much over the years, particularly as I heard of some of his antics in live shows, such as keeping the lights down, espousing his political views, refusing to play his hits, leaving early, etc.
But Prince is Prince. He is one of our few remaining pop icons. So when tickets were sold for shows in Louisville, I decided to give it a shot.
Prince rewarded us Sunday night with his best behavior during the third of his four intimate “pop-up” events at the Louisville Palace over the weekend. The result was one of the finest nights of entertainment I’ve ever enjoyed. Decked all in purple, Prince sang and danced like the Prince of old. He played his hits, but with a little different flavor, making them familiar, yet fresh, starting with “Let’s Go Crazy.” And perhaps most surprising, at least to me, he genuinely seemed to enjoy himself and the audience.
Prince frequently invited the audience to sing along, even bringing one lucky member on stage. He weaved Kentucky references into his songs. He shouted with glee to the balcony. In short, he was the ultimate showman.
Prince was also playful. He updated the lyric in “Kiss” to “You don’t have to watch ‘Love and Hip Hop’ to Have an Attitude.” Midway through the set, he joked he’d like to continue, but “he’d run out of hits,” perhaps lampooning himself. Of course, he hadn’t … and the hits kept coming, well into the night, until the very last note of Purple Rain.
This show was a homecoming for Prince’s drummer, Louisville native Hannah Ford of 3RDEYEGIRL. She definitely put her stamp on it, flailing away at the drums like a pop version of Keith Moon. It all added up to one great night of power pop and funk without the moralizing or any other hint of Prince’s peccadillos.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Mathiang Exorcises Demons with Unlikey Jumper

Every fan base has moments where it felt its team was snakebit, but it seems like University of Louisville fans have had more than their fair share.
Mango Mathiang lifts Louisville

I first felt the sting in 1981 when U.S. Reed hit a half-court shot at the buzzer to send my beloved Cards packing from the NCAA tournament. I’ve felt it again many times since in nearly every sport.
Sure, there have been monumental wins that any fanbase would be lucky to have: NCAA championships (men’s basketball), championship games (women’s basketball and soccer), Final Fours, Sweet 16s, BCS bowl wins and College World Series appearances. But there also has been a lot of pain. 

Here’s just a few of the agonizing moments that I remember:

  • After coughing up a big lead, a marginal foul call at the buzzer gives Kentucky’s Patrick Sparks the three free throws UK needs to beat the Cards.
  • With the football team in control and well on its way to a key win at West Virginia, the Cards injure the Mountaineers’ starting quarterback. Enter Pat White who literally runs wild, leading WVU all the way back to victory.
  • With Louisville in a rock fight against Morehead State in the NCAA basketball tournament, the Cards best player and emotional leader, Preston Knowles, is hurt and Morehead advances.
  • With Louisville football about to tack on another touchdown to an already big lead over Central Florida, the ball is fumbled through the end zone, resulting in a touchback. The Knights rally and take the Cards’ BCS bid.
You get the picture … and I haven’t even talked about fake fair catches and second chance field goals.
I say all of this to give some perspective on what happened Saturday night at the Yum Center when Mango Mathiang hit an unlikely jump shot with just over two seconds left to lift Louisville past second-ranked Virginia. U of L Head Coach Rick Pitino joked that Mathiang was the 64th option on the plan, having missed 15 of his last 16 shots, most of them coming from much closer to the basket than Saturday’s game winner.
In the world of the unlikely, this ranked right up there with the best of them. Karma, which had taven away so much, finally had given some back.
On that fateful possession, Virginia Coach Tony Bennett did his job. He blanketed the Cards’ biggest threats, Terry Rozier and Montrezl Harrell. He even took away their secondary options, Wayne Blackshear and Quentin Snider. If you told Bennett before the game that his team’s fortunes would rest on Mathiang making a contested shot from 15 feet, he surely would’ve taken you up on it.
Not this time. Mathiang channeled his inner U.S. Reed, exorcising a few (but not all) demons in the process. Now, for the moment, it’s the Cavaliers’ fans who are surely cursing their bad luck. I know exactly how they feel.
How about you? What snakebit moments do you remember?