Seems the new millennium was a bit apocalyptic for the one guy who was preparing for it the past 17 years. Prince, the composer of the party-over-oops-outta-time standard "1999," has been fairly inactive since the release of last year's listless Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic
. Between deciding what to call himself and battling with various record labels, the Artist (the pretentious moniker he prefers these days) has somehow still managed to build up quite a live rep for himself. His concerts, wild soul trains of flashy funk, strip away all the anger, mediocrity, and bizarre behavior of the past five years and dedicate themselves to the one thing that matters most -- the music. With the New Power Generation -- a floating caravan of funksters, hip-hoppers, and soul brothers and sisters -- Prince turns the stage into an R&B revue that delivers a different experience every night. You never can tell what he'll pull out of his bag of musical tricks, once he takes the stage -- the element of surprise sadly missing from his records, at least since 1996's triple-CD Emancipation
. Prince & the NPG wake from their hibernation for three shows this month; the first stop in Cleveland is part of his irregularly scheduled Hit and Run 2000 Tour. Expect everything from reworked versions of big hits such as "Let's Go Crazy" to Sly & the Family Stone covers and newer songs nobody really cares about. Take advantage of the appearance -- Lord knows when he'll be back around.