Prince is known for surprises, and the six-concert run in North Carolina and South Carolina, which starts March 21 at the Colonial Life Arena, certainly qualifies as one. The local “Welcome 2 America” tour stop was announced early Friday morning, just 10 days before the concert.
Not many performers besides Prince, who hasn’t had a new top 40 hit in more than a decade, could pull such a trick — and then expect to sell out a building. Prince’s last performance in April 2004 at the arena, then known as the Colonial Center, sold out.
Tickets, which go on sale at 10 a.m. Tuesday, cost $49 to $199.
The concert was confirmed Wednesday night, Tom Paquette, the arena’s general manager said. His first conversation about the show was March 4.
“I’ve never had a show go from the first phone call to on sale to play” so fast, Paquette said. “It’s the shortest on sale I’ve worked in 20-plus years.”
The other Carolina concerts are in Raleigh, Charlotte, Greensboro, Greenville and North Charleston. Prince will play the six shows over a 10-night period.
The arena’s concert calendar has heated up since Super Bowl Sunday, when Usher announced his tour would come to Columbia. Kenny G, Patti LaBelle, Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban will also play the venue in the coming months. But nothing can compare to April 2004, when Shania Twain, Kenny Chesney, Aerosmith, Jimmy Buffett and Prince played the arena,
“We’ve got a little run going,” Paquette said.
Since Prince will be playing on a circular stage — often referred to as in-the-round — the arena’s capacity will be in the ballpark of 15,000. Prince will play a lot of the older, seemingly timeless, hits if the set lists posted online from previous “Welcome 2 America” concerts are an indication.
Will Prince perform another spine-tingling acoustic set, where it’s just him, a guitar and a swiveling chair on stage, like seven years ago? Perhaps. One thing you can bet on is that Columbia native John Blackwell, Prince’s tour drummer, will get to show off his skills. Backup singer Shelby Johnson is also from the state.