Published on February 25, 2014 | by Tom Skinner0
Prince at the Electric Ballroom★★★★★
It was close to 11pm on a Wednesday night, yet despite the tube strike and dismal weather conditions, a huge queue of people stretched down Camden High Street, buzzing with anticipation.
For the last 24 hours there had been media frenzy, as the music press and fans alike heard news of Prince returning to the UK.
It had been announced at a low-key press conference that he was set to make a live comeback, with shows taking place at ‘iconic’ London venues, the first being the Electric Ballroom in Camden Town.
The singer, backed by new all-female band 3RDEYEGIRL, was set to showcase brand new material on his tour. Prince described the project as a ‘completely new band’ and wanted to kick off the new tour by playing smaller venues in the capital.
In the queue, excitement was running high, as no one knew for sure what was going to happen. With no guarantee that everyone would even make it inside, fans were relying on rumours from further down the line. One man said that Prince had already played a full set at the venue earlier in the evening.
A fan couldn’t contain his excitement as he danced erratically around the pavement, belting out the 1984 hit track I Would Die 4 U to a TV camera. It all seemed too good to be true as a security guard announced, “£10 entry, have your money ready”, as people began to filter into the underground venue.
This later turned out to be Prince’s second show of the night.
It began with new track Pretzelbodylogic, followed by a reworked version of Let’s Go Crazy, taken from the album Purple Rain. This new live version sounded heavier with a huge riff and down-tempo groove that the whole crowd surged to; it was difficult for everyone to comprehend that someone as iconic as Prince was playing in such a small space.
A constant stream of smoke often left Prince in silhouette, while pyro effects illuminated the stage – the effects didn’t stop there, as Prince unleashed an impressive light show, which added to the high energy of the music.
During Something in the Water (Does Not Compute), an extended instrumental was played as the audience repeatedly chanted the gospel backing vocals. The whole crowd danced to a cover of Play That Funky Music as Prince joked “who are you callin’ white?”The unforgettable crowd-pleaser Purple Rainmade the venue erupt in the biggest sing-along of the night, as Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL performed a stripped back piano version of the hit.
Prince had stated he was suffering from jetlag, but showed no sign of slowing down as he played two encores in his second gig of the night. Despite playing with a new band and new versions of old classics, it was an effortlessly brilliant performance, which had the audience captivated until 1am.
Prince told the crowd “We’ll stay as long as you’ll have us”, and that he would be looking for more venues in London to play.
Although he is rumoured to be headlining this year’s Glastonbury Festival, it seems London has not seen the last of Prince just yet. Keep an eye out for more intimate shows soon.