For the first time in nineteen years Prince was in Birmingham on the 15th May with his new band 3RDEYEGIRL to open the ‘Hit and Run Tour – Part II’ which features a run of exclusive arena shows.
The ‘Hit and Run Tour – Part II’ follows on from Part I which saw Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL take over special and intimate venues in London and Manchester this February for a series of history-making spontaneous shows announced at the 11th hour (with ticket prices at a rumoured £10!) via Twitter. Legendary venues included Ronnie Scotts, Electric Ballroom and Shepherds Bush Empire, with the band often playing up to three shows (!) in one night.
After some comical double bluffs by the lighting and sound departments, (audience getting audibly excited after lights were dimmed and sound building, only for the lights to come on and off again- 3 times!) and forty minutes later than the scheduled concert start time, Prince appeared camouflaged by a huge bunch of purple and cream balloons. He was impossible to miss- even in the dark, due to his ever amazing fashion choices, tonight’s being his awesome shoes featuring flashing soles! Silhouetted behind a material façade, the curtain dropped and before engulfing Prince completely it was snapped back up to the roof, and along with it he released his balloons as the band launched into 2014’s ‘FUNKNROLL’.
The sound in this cavernous, commercial, 16,000 capacity room was entirely surprising. Speaking from a perspective front/port side, the sound hit you like a stampede. Prince dubbed in the past as the master of funk, rock, pop and RnB, comes with the connotation of fun and light- leaning towards the ‘pop’, the popular, the amusement of the masses. But live? And with the 3RDEYEGIRL girls beside him- Prince leans towards the rock. Boy is he a talented guitarist, except, he doesn’t stand stuck to one spot light Hetfield or Slash– he’s shredding away whilst dancing AND singing! And each note hits you- smack in the chest. His lady accompaniments are also wonderfully talented, and honed musicians in their own right, bring props going to the unrelenting drums from Hannah throughout the show. The classic songs also came across louder, more rocky live- whilst still impossible not to dance to, but if a raw-retro-rock sound is what the band were going for with this awaited album (PLECTRUMELECTRUM) then they have hit the nail on the head. Following on that thread, performance-wise, for what one might expect from The Purple One, staging was stripped back, like- literally, the stage was small and a near square, with eyes able to pry from the front and either side- and the band were huddled in a small spot surrounded by the high stacked amps. Some may have expected and appreciated more of a performance, more spectacle- but from this view, it was appreciated in the simplicity- it’s all about the music. The touches that were added to the performance although not so subtle, were still in-keeping and added to the atmosphere exponentially, these touches included the dry ice fog that came off the stage like Niagra Falls in slow motion at various points throughout the evening- epic! And the literal purple rain that glittered over the crowd for the anthemic favourite ‘Purple Rain’- genius.
Still carrying some still confusing questions about the actual line-up of the band, (is it Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL or is Prince in 3RDEYEGIRL?) having read conflicting titles over the media, it generally reads as the star and his back-up band. But after witnessing the unity on stage, it’s obvious that is not the case. Each member of the band had their chance to shine, Prince would stand towards the back and encourage the ladies to take front of stage to get their moment in the spotlight. One touching little moment, probably not noticed by many, during her solo on track Pretzelbodylogic’, bass played Ida got the heel of her shoe caught in her dress, and Prince swiftly saw his friend in an awkward moment, bent down and no fuss saved her from a possible humiliating situation. No drama, no diva, no crazy persona, just a talented band and front-man on stage.
Go in as a novice, one will leave a Prince event having had a really great night, enjoyed the show and been instilled with great respect and amazement at the musicianship they just witnessed. Go in as a Prince fan? And you’d leave even more enthralled and besotted- he’s so talented, so funky and so amazingly energetic and lithe- it’s tiring just watching him.
Having played around thirty-four (ish) songs and two and a half hours of funk-rock, to a packed and hungry crowd, Prince left the LG Arena, and he must have been exhausted!
2.Take Me With U
4.U Got the Look
8.Let’s Go Crazy
9.She’s Always in My Hair
13.Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)
15.What’s My Name?
16.How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
17.Diamonds and Pearls
18.The Beautiful Ones
22.Little Red Corvette
23.When Doves Cry
24.Sign “☮” the Times
26.Forever in My Life
30.The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
32.I Would Die 4 U
34.Play That Funky Music