Prince's secret London gig, review: The Purple reign continues


Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL; Camden Electric Ballroom, London

On a dark, dark night in which those pockets of southern England not in danger of slipping silently into the sea were bracing themselves for the headache of a tube strike, it was left to a 55-year-old from Minnesota to provide a distraction. A series of cryptic tweets dating back to August hinted at plans of Prince’s return to England, cultivating hungry rumours of an extensive tour and a possible Glastonbury headline slot.

Last night, days after a curiously worded and disconcertingly ambiguous press release confirming plans for a new record with all-female backing band 3RDEYEGIRL and a run of shows at “iconic venues in and around London”, the multi-instrumentalist brought the Prince circus to sodden London.

Was it a soundcheck? Was it a gig? Matter not, it was Prince, alive and very much kicking in a tidy black sleeveless ensemble, a black guitar slung over his shoulder.

Those who still had a fully working “refresh” button on their computers, tablets and smartphones after 48 hours of “is Prince in London, and if so where?” were informed of the impromptu performance at the historic Camden Electric Ballroom via Twitter at around 10pm. Fans waiting patiently outside were doing so more in hope than expectation. A nod and a smile when tentative inquiries were made to door staff about the night’s mystery performer was all the validation the throngs of giddy punters needed to stay out just a bit longer.

A little over two hours after the concert was tentatively mooted, the doors opened. Much like an old end-of-term variety show, the band started playing the moment the first saturated canvas shoes pounded towards the stage. A down-tempo rendition of “I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man”, from 1987’s Sign O’ The Times, greeted most of the stampede, estimated to number anywhere between 75 and 250 (a decent proportion of those were there to instruct the rest not to take pictures). Either way, those inside the 1,000-capacity venue rattled.  Blink and you'll miss it: Medallion man Prince Blink and you'll miss it: Prince performs on stage in 2011

“You sound like ten thousand,” Prince said. An odd comment, considering the set was heavy with new music nobody seemed to know the words to. Or didn’t until Prince conducted the hypnotised ensemble into hollering a few stanzas back at him anyway.

Standing behind a microphone stand decorated with his “love symbol” insignia, Prince stormed his way through a 30-minute set, and a cover of Wild Cherry’s classic “Play That Funky Music”, which saw him swap his guitar for a slap bass and then back again. New material - including “Plectrum Electrum” - unintroduced and segued seamlessly into meandering instrumentals, was delivered with gusto and a solo-picked-from-behind-the-neck courtesy of 3RDEYEGIRL guitarist Donna Grantis. Through showmanship or sheer musical talent, the fresh cuts did not derail the show.

Beaming throughout, the performers darted off stage only to return and milk the applause. “We’ll be back tomorrow,” Prince said. And then they were gone, this time for good.

If it was a gig, few could have felt short-changed despite its brevity. The doors were opened, free of charge, to all committed enough to brave conditions both meteorological and union-made. “It’s just a soundcheck,” a couple muttered. Fine. But it was as professional and captivating a run-through as the Electric Ballroom has surely seen in years.

The purple reign continues.

Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May


Arts and Entertainment
Haunted looks: Matthew Macfadyen and Timothy Spall star in ‘The Enfield Haunting’

North London meets The Exorcist in eerie suburban drama


Arts and Entertainment

Filming to begin on two new series due to be aired on Dave from next year


Arts and Entertainment
Kit Harington plays MI5 agent Will Holloway in Spooks: The Greater Good

'You can't count on anyone making it out alive'film
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
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.

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living