Monday, July 4, 2011

Prince - everything he does gon' be funky

Over the years, I've seen Prince in concert more than any other artist. It's never a bad night out - this is a man who preens, purrs, perspires, prays, plucks, postures, primps and pirouettes like no other. But just as you and I have good and bad days in the office, some Prince gigs are better than others.

When I saw 1993's Symbol Tour in Edinburgh, it felt a little workaday - just another run-through of the hits for an anonymous stadium crowd. Two years later in Dublin's Point Theatre he seemed rejuvenated - excitedly playing new material, most of which ended up on the Gold Experience album. There were dozens of blistering guitar solos and, at the end of the show, Prince ditched all the sampled loops he was using and launched into a ridiculously exciting 20-minute jam, based around the NPG single Get Wild.

My dad came to that gig, and we ended up in the moshpit for the entire encore. A few years later, he had to have surgery on his knees...

So, waiting to see Mr Rogers Nelson play his first ever UK festival at Hop Farm last night, I was intrigued to see how he'd approach the show. The fear was that he'd take the money and run - a couple of bars of Purple Rain, a quick sing-along to Raspberry Beret and back on the big purple funbus. But, as it turned out, it's the most electrifying show I've seen Prince play since the night I got engaged (and that's a whole other story).

What struck me most of all was how much fun he was having... Wiggling his bottom at the crowd, dancing on top of his piano, and flirting with the ladies of the NPG, a stupid grin plastered all over his age-defying face.

He even dragged out an hour's worth of encores, including a funkdafied version of The Beatles' Come Together, and a cheesy-but-nonetheless-amazing rendition of If I Was Your Girlfriend. Not a single person left that field without feeling ecstatic, I guarantee you.

I've written a rather matter-of-fact account of the set for the BBC, which you can find by clicking this link. But I have to admit I was totally outclassed by Tom Horan, whose review in The Telegraph captures the spirit of the show perfectly.

As I said, we all have good days and bad days at the office.

We Live 2 Get Funky / Soundcheck
Let's Go Crazy
Let's Go Crazy (reprise)
Little Red Corvette
Nothing Compares 2 U (feat Shelby J.)
Take Me With U
Raspberry Beret
Cool / Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough
Let's Work
U Got The Look
Purple Rain

Encore One
Play That Funky Music
Controversy (reprise, inc. Housequake chant)

Encore Two - with Larry Graham
Everyday People
Come Together
I Want To Take You Higher

Encore Three
If I Was Your Girlfriend
Dance (Disco Heat)
Baby I'm A Star

[images and setlist courtesy of]

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