Friday, May 16, 2014

Prince / 3RDEYEGIRL @ The LG Arena, Thursday 15th May 2014

He may have left his fans in the Midlands crying when he played a series of ‘secret’ shows back in February but just a couple of months later he’s returned. Okay so his venue of choice, the cavernous LG Arena, could hardly be described as intimate but given the fact that his last Birmingham gig was way back in the early 90s there were probably one or two people who quite fancied seeing him...

By the time 3RDEYEGIRL came onstage at around 8.45pm (after a series of teasing lights off, lights on routines) the place was pretty much packed. Wearing a rather snazzy printed white silk outfit Prince was out last carrying a bunch of balloons which he released as new track Funknroll bursts into life. 

Boy he’s (still) a sexy mutha and there’s no doubt about it, ladies and gentleman, after a fairly long period in the wilderness (all that symbol stuff, giving away albums with the Daily Mail etc) he’s back. It might not be right up there with his very best stuff but hell, it’s close enough. Any slight fears that he might be purely sticking to the new material were swiftly dispelled with what could best be described as a wet dream of a setlist kicking off with Take Me With U, Raspberry Beret, Musicology (quite possibly outfunking the Godfather himself, Mr James Brown) and freshened up version of Kiss (given a little bit of an electro makeover). 

Forget NPG, Third Eye Girl has NRG and Prince is the throbbing (steady now) heart of it all, dancing his ass off (he kept this up for most of the night too) like a man half his age, or mine come to that. What followed was nothing short of a masterclass in showman...and woman...ship, packing in more hits than any sane group would attempt in a couple of hours. Of course this inevitably means that you only get brief bursts of some numbers (in the case of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World just one line) but you’d be there ‘til dawn otherwise. The new stuff continued to hold its own against the classics with the pop/funk/rock hybrid of Pretzelbodylogic going down (as it were) well and the lounge-tastic solo piano segments giving the crowd a moment to catch its collective breath ready for the next funkathon. Vocally he's strong as ever, which is pretty remarkable given his range, and it's great to see an artist who's seemingly as hungry to be up there on stage as he was back in the 80s. In fact you get the distinct feeling that he's genuinely at his happiest when he's playing music. Legend has it that some of his home jams go on for days...literally. He was pretty chatty too, throwing out the odd suggestive comment to one or two ladies who caught his eye and generally whipping up the rest of us. As the show climaxed (it’s damn hard to write a Prince review without getting all suggestive) the hit counter went off the scale with 1999 and Little Red Corvette sliding (see?) into a medley that included When Doves Cry (presumably because they failed to score tickets to this show), Sign O’ The Times, Alphabet Street, Pop Life and I Would Die 4 U. 

Encore Purple Rain featured yet another awesome guitar solo (come on now, admit it, Prince is Jimi’s lovechild right?!) and a curfew busting cover of Play That Funky Music left all those still standing well and truly funk drunk.

Being purely objective for a second the venue’s not the best - no venue this big can ever really capture the magic of live music- the sound was a little muddy to begin with and some may have found the extended jams a little tiresome (although equally others, me included, loved 'em) but frankly I’d have gone to watch Prince play a hole in the ground with cheese in my ears. He didn't play it tonight but here’s a message if he’s reading...when it comes to putting on a show like this Nothing Compares 2 U.

Setlist: Funknroll / Take Me With U / Raspberry Beret / U Got The Look / Musicology / Empty Room / Let’s Go Crazy / She’s Always In My Hair / Guitar / Plectrum Electrum / FixUrLifeUp / Something In The Water (Does Not Compute) / Pretzelbodylogic / What’s My Name / How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore / Diamonds and Pearls / The Beautiful Ones / Electric Intercourse / Controversy / 1999 / Little Red Corvette / When Doves Cry / Sign O’ The Times / Alphabet St. / Forever In My Life / Hot Thing / Housequake / Nasty Girl / The Most Beautiful Girl In The World / Pop Life / I Would Die 4 U / Purple Rain / Play That Funky Music 

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