We went to see Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL earlier in the year when they took over Manchester’s Academy for two nights. Justifiably, we got extremely over excited. Prince Rogers Nelson is, kind of, the best live act in the universe and he is one of a number of living legends who creates live experiences now that are just as unforgettable as they were when he first got heads turning towards Paisley Park in 1978. His stint as a smaller venue sovereign backed by his troop of weapon swinging heroines was extraordinary and was testament to his undying commitment to the reinvention of the live sector.
Then came what the purple army really least expected, an actual arena tour. Trading his pop-up gig mentality for more fitting surroundings, the purple trailblazer returned to our shores to deliver a masterclass in how to handle a room. As the curtain dropped and a sleazy revamp of Let’s Go Crazy blared through the room, the guy who we thought we figured out got even more unsurpassable.
Rattling through a setlist that included Raspberry Beret, Something In The Water and the totally timeless Controversy, this was Prince with nothing to prove. Juggling new material and old treasures like no time has passed at all. For a performer as established as he is, he manages to bypass any sense of nostalgia or renaissance. You are in the presence of greatness but you aren’t expected to bow down or listen to anecdotes of bygone years, in Prince’s words; “Put your phones down, get your party on.”
Having repaired his relationship with Warner Music, Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL are in the run up to releasing a much-anticipated album. New tunes like Funknroll or (rumoured title track) Plectrum Electrum channel the Prince of ’87’s Sign ‘O’ The Times but if that LP was a mission statement, we could be in store for a nonnegotiable agenda of funk.
After Purple Rain closed the show in spectacular fashion, Prince sauntered back on, alone and let a cluster of balloons free in to the air. As he turned around to exit he had a slightly playful smile on his face. His “Hit and Run” vision is realised in superhuman fashion. A perfect disturbance and a thrilling precursor to the next chapter in his remarkable artistic odyssey.
Prince once said, “I don’t talk about the past”. There’s a world of things you could expect from the upcoming studio LP; sex, parties, heartbreak and everything in between. But don’t expect a comeback. Don’t even call it a comeback. Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL aren’t even looking in that direction. Follow their lead- blink and you’ll miss them.
Words: Duncan Harrison