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
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film Ridley Scott reveals truth behind casting decisions of Exodus
Arts and Entertainment
An unseen image of Kurt Cobain at home featured in the film 'Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck'
filmThe singers widow and former bandmates have approved project
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden and Edwina Currie are joining the I'm A Celebrity...Get Me Out Of Here! camp
Arts and Entertainment
George Mpanga has been shortlisted for the Critics’ Choice prize
Arts and Entertainment
Roisin, James and Sanjay in the boardroom
tvReview: This week's failing project manager had to go
Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
Will there ever be a Friends reunion?
Harry Hill plays the Professor in the show and hopes it will help boost interest in science among young people
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
A Van Gogh sold at Sotheby’s earlier this month
Arts and Entertainment

MusicThe band accidentally called Londoners the C-word

Arts and Entertainment
It would 'mean a great deal' to Angelina Jolie if she won the best director Oscar for Unbroken

Film 'I've never been comfortable on-screen', she says

Arts and Entertainment
Winnie the Pooh has been branded 'inappropriate' in Poland
Arts and Entertainment
Lee Evans is quitting comedy to spend more time with his wife and daughter

Arts and Entertainment
American singer, acclaimed actor of stage and screen, political activist and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson (1898 - 1976), rehearses in relaxed mood at the piano.
filmSinger, actor, activist, athlete: Paul Robeson was a cultural giant. But prejudice and intolerance drove him to a miserable death. Now his story is to be told in film...
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is dominating album and singles charts worldwide

Arts and Entertainment
Kieron Richardson plays gay character Ste Hay in Channel 4 soap Hollyoaks

Arts and Entertainment
Midge Ure and Sir Bob Geldof outside the Notting Hill recording studios for Band Aid 30

Arts and Entertainment
Look out: Broad shoulders take Idris Elba’s DCI John Luther a long way
tvIdris Elba will appear in two special episodes for the BBC next year
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: ‘We give them hope. They come to us when no one else can help’

    Christmas Appeal

    Meet the charity giving homeless veterans hope – and who they turn to when no one else can help
    Should doctors and patients learn to plan humane, happier endings rather than trying to prolong life?

    Is it always right to try to prolong life?

    Most of us would prefer to die in our own beds, with our families beside us. But, as a GP, Margaret McCartney sees too many end their days in a medicalised battle
    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night - is that what it takes for women to get to the top?

    What does it take for women to get to the top?

    Thomas Cook's outgoing boss Harriet Green got by on four hours sleep a night and told women they had to do more if they wanted to get on
    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour War and Peace on New Year's Day as Controller warns of cuts

    Just what you need on a New Year hangover...

    Radio 4 to broadcast 10-hour adaptation of War and Peace on first day of 2015
    Christmas 2014: 10 best educational toys

    Learn and play: 10 best educational toys

    Of course you want them to have fun, but even better if they can learn at the same time
    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    Cameron, Miliband and Clegg join forces for Homeless Veterans campaign

    It's in all our interests to look after servicemen and women who fall on hard times, say party leaders
    Millionaire Sol Campbell wades into wealthy backlash against Labour's mansion tax

    Sol Campbell cries foul at Labour's mansion tax

    The former England defender joins Myleene Klass, Griff Rhys Jones and Melvyn Bragg in criticising proposals
    Nicolas Sarkozy returns: The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?

    Sarkozy returns

    The ex-President is preparing to fight for the leadership of France's main opposition party – but will he win big enough?
    Is the criticism of Ed Miliband a coded form of anti-Semitism?

    Is the criticism of Miliband anti-Semitic?

    Attacks on the Labour leader have coalesced around a sense that he is different, weird, a man apart. But is the criticism more sinister?
    Ouija boards are the must-have gift this Christmas, fuelled by a schlock horror film

    Ouija boards are the must-have festive gift

    Simon Usborne explores the appeal - and mysteries - of a century-old parlour game
    There's a Good Girl exhibition: How female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising

    In pictures: There's a Good Girl exhibition

    The new exhibition reveals how female creatives are changing the way women are portrayed in advertising
    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover - from advent calendars to doll's houses

    UK firm Biscuiteers is giving cookies a makeover

    It worked with cupcakes, doughnuts and macarons so no wonder someone decided to revamp the humble biscuit
    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    Can SkySaga capture the Minecraft magic?

    It's no surprise that the building game born in Sweden in 2009 and now played by millions, has imitators keen to construct their own mega money-spinner
    The King's School is way ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology

    Staying connected: The King's School

    The school in Cambridgeshire is ahead of the pack when it comes to using the latest classroom technology. Richard Garner discovers how teachers and pupils stay connected
    Christmas 2014: 23 best women's perfumes

    Festively fragrant: the best women's perfumes

    Give a loved one a luxe fragrance this year or treat yourself to a sensual pick-me-up