Prince, Hop Farm Festival, Kent
Richard Cheese, Forum, London

His supernatural levels of genius are a challenge to my atheism. All other music is ruined for me

Pop is always about moments, and here's one.

At the climax of a set-closing "Baby I'm a Star", Prince lies sprawled atop a purple grand piano. He cocks one knee, sits up for a second, and smirks the smile of a man who knows he's just absolutely killed it. Then he hops down, slams his microphone stand to the floor, and the little archangel strides off into the shadows leaving 50,000 people awestruck.

Last time I reviewed Prince in 2007, at the opening show of his 21 Nights in London residency at the 02, I described it as "the single greatest concert I have seen in my entire life". I should never have offered up such a hostage to fortune, because Prince at Hop Farm 2011 edges ahead of even that dizzying height.

It starts in the strangest way, with the ageless, Dorian Gray-like 53-year-old leading his superb, predominantly female band through a new song, "We Live to Get Funky", which amounts to a live soundcheck as he shouts instructions ("B-flat chromatic ... A chromatic ..."), until someone hits a sinister sustained chord and he steps up to the mic. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today..."

The Kent countryside erupts. Not just because this heralds the start of "Let's Go Crazy", but because of what it tells us about Prince's mood. If you've seen a few Prince shows, and I've seen about 20, you know there's always a danger you'll just get his latest couple of albums plus patience-testing funk jams. Not tonight. For his first UK open-air show in 18 years, he's brought the classics: "Delirious", "1999", "Take Me with U", "Raspberry Beret", "Cream" and "If I Was Your Girlfriend" are among the highlights of a two-hour, 15-minute set. "Do you know how many hits we've got?" he grins. "If I play them all, we'll be here till next year", whereupon he chops out the intro to "Kiss" and the field goes crazy all over again.

He's in impish and imperious form, shimmying and pirouetting like a funkateer Nijinsky. He's even cracking jokes: "That isn't mine, that's Sinead O'Connor's", he deadpans after a staggering "Nothing Compares 2 U", receiving our pantomime boos before adding, "What? C'mon. That song bought me a house."

There's a touching nod to former rival Michael Jackson with a cover of "Don't Stop 'til You Get Enough", and a couple of Sly & The Family Stone numbers with bassist Larry Graham.

Two songs stand out. "Little Red Corvette" is expanded into an Al Green soul epic, with an exquisite call-and-response section. But even that is outshone by what is, by general consent, the most emotionally intense rendition of "Purple Rain" he's given for years, that guitar solo ripping the sky apart as violet tinsel cascades from cannons. Once again, the man whose surely supernatural level of genius challenges my own atheism has delivered a show that will ruin all other music for me. Until he comes back.

On paper, Richard Cheese shouldn't work. The shtick of easy listening covers of alternative rock anthems has already been done to death. Nevertheless, the first time I heard Cheese, my mouth fell open in shock. "This one's for the ladies! Rape me, rape me my friend."

Vamping Vegas-style through one of Nirvana's bleakest moments and turning it into a jolly cha-cha-cha is par for the course with Cheese. As you may have heard, he recently performed at the royal wedding party, and opened with the Dead Kennedys' "Too Drunk to Fuck". Tonight, the Californian crooner fronts a disappointingly basic line-up, but rolls out Rat Pack renditions of AC/DC's "You Shook Me All Night Long", "Radiohead's "Airbag" and a Beastie medley.

Pimping his Live at the Royal Wedding CD, Cheese offers a clue as to how on earth such an incongruous booking came about. "It was such an honour playing at Buckingham Palace," he twinkles. "It's like a dream. It's like it never even happened ..."

Next Week:

Simon Price cools down with Ice Cube and warms up with Friendly Fires

Theatre Choice

Two of the better British festivals are looming. Latitude brings Suede, Hurts, Glasvegas, Rumer, Bright Eyes, Wanda Jackson, Adam Ant and James Blake to Henham Park near Southwold (Fri to Sun). On the same days, Lovebox pops open to reveal Snoop Dogg, Katy B, Blondie, Beth Ditto, Robyn, Kelis and Filthy Dukes at London's Victoria Park.

Arts and Entertainment
Stewart Lee (Gavin Evans)

comedy

Arts and Entertainment
No half measures: ‘The Secret Life of the Pub’

Grace Dent on TV The Secret Life of the Pub is sexist, ageist and a breath of fresh air

Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

Arts and Entertainment
Yaphett Kotto with Julius W Harris and Jane Seymour in 1973 Bond movie Live and Let Die

film
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment

film
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
    Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

    UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

    Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
    John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

    ‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

    Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
    Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

    Let the propaganda wars begin - again

    'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

    Japan's incredible long-distance runners

    Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
    Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

    Tom Drury: The quiet American

    His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

    Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
    Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

    Beige to the future

    Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

    Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

    More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
    Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

    Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

    The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own