Prince, La Zona Rosa, Austin Texas
Monday 18 March 2013
The wristbands for Prince’s concert were purple – what else? Yet they should have been platinum, considering the value fans put on them.
Prince closed a week-long celebration of music at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, with a free concert for 300 badge-holders chosen by lottery. Such was the frenzy to see him, wristbands were changing hands in the queue for up to five hundred dollars each.
Performing a stripped-back event at grindhouse-style bar ‘La Zona Rosa’, Prince hit the stage more than an hour late, past midnight, although this wasn’t down to superstar timekeeping, but that of support band, 90s hip hop act ‘A Tribe Called Quest.’ However, flagging audience spirits were quickly revived by Prince’s twelve-piece band making their appearance, carnival-style, through the crowd.
A happy Prince bounced on the stage shortly afterwards, wearing pink, sporting an afro and surrounded by a light show of the same colour that burned into sunset orange as he launched into ‘1999.’
“They called and they said they needed some funk down here in Austin,” he told the rapturous crowd. “ I love this event, I love being surrounded by musicians. I am their servant.”
Indeed, this gig was more about his band than him. Although he is expected to launch a new album and tour later this year, no new material was played, not even his latest track, ‘Screwdriver.’ Instead he stuck to performing funk covers of other artists’ classics, namely Michael Jackson’s ‘Don’t Stop till You Get Enough’ and Curtis Mayfield’s ‘We’re A Winner.’ He once exited the stage for several minutes, leaving the instruments playing - fortunately to return with a simple, spine-tingling rendition of ‘Purple Rain.’
“Ain’t no curfew here,” he declared, though the lights went down in the venue three times. At one point, the DJ began playing for the after party, and was unceremoniously stopped.
In the end, the fifty four year old superstar outlasted half the Austin audience and kept playing till almost 3am. As he pointed out, he had too many hits, although he didn’t perform nearly enough of them.
Fans will have left without the usual phone footage, having been warned against using them – ironically, considering the event was sponsored by a mobile phone company. They’ll have to rely on their memories of a radiant Prince, still towering above every other artist.
tv Jenny Lee may have left, but Miranda Hart and the rest of the midwives deliver the goods
Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites
TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Planes go hybrid-electric in important step to greener flight
- 2 Antonio Martin shooting: Police and protesters clash over teenager's death just five miles from Ferguson, Missouri
- 3 Northern Lights above Britain: Stunning Aurora Borealis illuminates Northumberland sky on Christmas Eve
- 4 British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
- 5 Hip hop is both racial and political, and for Iggy Azalea to suggest otherwise is insulting
Christmas Day TV guide 2014: What to watch from Strictly Come Dancing to the story of Frozen
Best underrated Christmas movies: From Trading Places to While You Were Sleeping
Felicity Jones on being Stephen Hawking's wife in The Theory of Everything: 'I didn't want her to be a saint'
Game of Thrones season five: First preview clip shows a beardy Tyrion, a moody Cersei and a distressed Arya
The Interview finally gets US release after Sony hack and terror threats – but reviews of North Korea satire are mixed
Nigel Farage defends Kerry Smith 'ch***y' comment: 'If you are going for a Chinese, what do you say you’re going for?'
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Rozanne Duncan: Ukip expels councillor for 'jaw-dropping' comments made in BBC TV interview
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Panic Saturday: 13 million Britons spend £1.2bn – while 13 million others across the country live in poverty unable to afford food