About 2 hours ago I had a verbal exchange with a bloke doing a gig, it went like this…
Bloke- “We’re going to play a new song from my new record ‘Plectrum Electrum’…… it’s available to download”
Me- “I’ve heard that one” (I hadn’t I was just looking for a reaction, I was being a pillock)
The bloke reacted- “Ok, as you’ve heard that one we’ll play something else”
He then went into a reworking of ‘I Like It There’, a song from his 18th album ‘Chaos And Disorder.’ Because I’d, more or less, told him to.
The bloke was Prince Rogers Nelson, commonly known as Prince. The gig was at The Electric Ballroom, a dark and dirty venue in Camden Town, it holds about 400 when full and has hosted gigs since before the punk days.
30 minutes earlier I’d been trying to finish a book I was reading and washing the last of the paint from my hands after spending a day decorating my mate’s flat.
I’d been checking Twatter and Basefook all day for news as to what Prince might be up to, having ascertained that he was in London. I am a borderline demented Prince fan and have been since I grew ears, so I’ve blocked out the whole of the month to make a dick of myself, knowing he’s set to play various venues. After 10pm his British manager put out a tweet saying that there was going to be an ‘open soundcheck’ at The Electric Ballroom, Camden (about a 4 minute bus ride from my house). My shoes were on so fast I got ‘Shoe-burn’ and then I endured the most annoying journey of my life, minutes seem like hours when you’re on the way to a rumoured Prince gig in a small venue and you’re hyperventilating a bit.
Due to it pissing it down, a tube strike, and not many people being as obsessed as I am I was about tenth in the queue, which soon became first in the queue after agreeing to be interviewed by a lovely lady from Channel 4 News, who’d been (sort of) informed by Prince’s management in order to leak it out. Then I was inside the venue. (The interview is here. I am very funny)
20 minutes later Prince walked on to an audience of around 60 people, dressed in a fur waistcoat and flashing high-heels, full afro. I was on the barrier 4 feet away from him jumping up and down screaming my emulsion coated lungs out.
He played for about an hour, (new stuff and re-workings of older stuff) with a three piece all female, tight yet organic, power trio. At one point he picked up the bass and went into a solo for a while, proper chunk of funk.
He pulled some of his finest ‘funky faces’, had those gathered singing along to new songs, spoke to me for a few seconds, slung his guitar into the audience, said thanks to the house staff for being cooperative, said thanks to us (especially me (that’s a lie)) for coming, said he’d be there again tomorrow, and was gone.
I didn’t feel like I’d just seen one of the worlds most iconic stars pull off a secret gig to a few rain drenched and very happy punters, it felt like a great gig by a bloke who knew how to start a party, such was its intimacy.
Prince is in town. I suggest you join the fun.