Prince - London 02 Arena - 1/8/07

03 Aug 2007

just one of at least four prince shows on this extraordinary 21-night run that rockfeedback will be attending, this opening night performance was nothing short of spectacular. they probably all will be.

Prince

"Hello London. Did you miss me?"

And so, the madness begins. Prince, certainly the world's greatest showman, returned this week to the UK for an unprecedented 21 night run at the former Millennium Dome. And though eight years late, London did indeed party like it was 1999.

Ascending through a trap door amid a haze of dry ice in the middle of a fantastic 'symbol' shaped stage, we are treated to a truly stunning 'Purple Rain' (yeah, he started with 'Purple Rain' - Jesus!) and it instantly becomes apparent that we are in for a night to remember. Rumour has it that he and his band have rehearsed in excess of 150 songs. And what a band it is, with former James Brown band leader Maceo Parker fronting the horn section, husband and wife team Cora and Joshua Dunham on drums & bass and a couple of amazing Beyonce look-alike dancers called the "Twinz" all in tow.

As a man fast approaching his 50th birthday, there's no hint of tempering his lasciviousness as he romps through 'Controversy'. And as someone who is reportedly in need of a hip replacement, there's no holding back with the dance moves as he spins about on his cream coloured high heels, matching jacket only held don by the purple 'symbol' guitar slung across his back. For the next hour, we are taken through greatest hits tour and he teases the delirious audience with "You can't handle me. I've got more hits than Madonna's got kids!" Should he play 'Raspberry Beret'? What about 'Pop Life'? Eventually, he launches into an outstanding version of 'Kiss' with the Twinz cart wheeling around the stage.

New songs 'Planet Earth' and 'Guitar' close the main set before the first of tonight's encores, a great cover of Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy' with backing vocalist Shelby J taking the lead. 'Crazy' morphs into 'One Nation Under a Groove' before a breathtaking version of 'Nothing Compares 2 U' that even the dodgy acoustics of the O2 couldn't ruin. A frantic version of 'Let's Go Crazy' brings that part of the set to an end, and as the house lights go up, a very contented 20,000 people begin to make their way from the arena trying to work out how they can get tickets to come again.

But Prince has another little trick up his sleeve, and as screams from the floor begin, a pose of security guards guide our hero through the melee towards the stage for an apparently impromptu second encore. Punters rush to the front, leaping barriers to get on the floor and we get the stripped-back intimate Prince with solo renditions of 'Little Red Corvette', 'Raspberry Beret' and 'Sometimes It Snows In April' before the band return for a storming medley of 'A Love Bizarre' and 'Le Freak'.

Prince stayed up jamming 'til 4am at the after show. Roll on the next 20 nights.

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