It won’t have escaped your attention that Prince has been high-falutin’ around London recently, new band in tow, rocking up at venues and going crazy until the wee hours. It started at Camden’s Electric Ballroom, gravitated to glorious theatres like Koko and Shepherds Bush Empire, before climaxing with a star studded midnight show at Soho’s Ronnie Scott’s.
Along the way there’ve been £10 tickets, a massive Twitter #PrinceArmy, rumours of summer shows at Hyde Park and Glastonbury and a few rumblings of discontent. It’s been fascinating and unprecedented – here’s what we’ve learned.
Prince Hates Touts
By announcing dates late in the day, selling tickets on the door and keeping the prices low, these gigs have effectively cut touts out of the equation. If Prince had announced dates at those venues in advance, no way tickets wouldn’t be changing hands on the streets for less than 3 figures.
But Prince Still Knows How Much He’s Worth
There were some rumblings of annoyance that the first Prince gigs were a measly tenner, while the later shows at King’s Place, Koko and Ronnie Scotts were £70. I refer you to my first point – in the current climate, £70 for a Prince ticket at a venue with some character, rather than some shiny, sterile, entertainment-bowl, is a steal. How much did people pay for Fleetwood Mac at the 02? How much are they paying for Monty Python? £70 is acceptable, and £10 was unbelievable.
Prince either loves or hates his fans, not sure
If you’ve been following #PrinceArmy or #PrinceWatch you’ll see a group of fans that are dedicated, bordering on obsessive, very willing to gush over the shows they’ve seen, the people they’ve met, the hot chocolate given out to them in cold queues and the low ticket prices. Prince cares!
OR, Prince doesn’t care. People are being forced to queue for hours only to see bandwagon hopping celebs leap ahead of them (a big problem at the Ronnie Scotts shows, apparently). The meritocratic idea behind these shows is a smokescreen, when really they’re little more than private gigs for those in the know.
Two sides of the same coin, for me. Of course there were people who had inside info on these shows, and of course they’re going to get in. It sucks, but at the end of the day, he played a dozen shows, which is above and beyond.
Will this set a precedent?
In short, no. As much as I’d love to see legendary bands play little, intimate venues, I can’t see it happening. Prince’s whole career has been built around mystique and this tour fit perfectly into that narrative. Also, it’s a model that works for Prince, because he’s Prince, and a Prince gig is a rarity at the best of times. As much as I’d like to see Bruce Springsteen rock up at The Slaughtered Lamb in Farringdon, Telecaster slung over his shoulder, I feel it’s unlikely.
And will Prince be playing Glastonbury?
Almost certainly not, and he likely never will. Here’s a quote from an interview he did in 2011: "They use my name to sell the festival... It's illegal. I've never spoken to anyone about doing that concert, ever." Oh, his manager on numerous occasions has quashed the rumour too. Can we put this one to bed?
Prince still rocks
Now, I didn’t go and see Prince, due to a number of reasons too frustrating and, frankly, upsetting to go into now. However, the official videos that have been released by his people – particularly Chaos & Disorder from Shepherds Bush – point to a man who is at the height of his powers. He wails on that guitar, he’s an explosive frontman and his energy is boundless. Also, he’s playing the hits, he knows what the people want.
Phones should be banned from gigs
In The Purple One’s defence, he specifically requested people not take photos or video his shows. One person to flout this was Rita Ora, who posted an Instagram Video of When Doves Cry. Rita Ora is a terrible human being. Put simply, if you are at a Prince show, or indeed, any show, and think: “Hey, I better get a shitty video to show to my shitty friends”, or worse, “I better take a blurred photo that is good for literally fuck all”, then you don’t deserve to be in that room. If you’re one of these people, if you tried to selfie during Purple Rain, know that I hate you.
So on goes the hit & run tour to Manchester, so we’re led to believe. How long he’s going to stay? Who knows. He might even be back in the capital before the end of the month. If he is, you’ll be the last to know.