Back in the mists of time, I saw what I still consider to be the best show I’ve ever been to – Prince at Wembley Arena in 1986 at the height of his formidable powers.
When he sadly passed away a couple of years ago I was resigned to the fact that I wouldn’t see him again and I had long since given up on seeing his amazing sidemen and women.
And yet – to paraphrase Morrissey’s greeting to Noel Gallagher when the latter called to see him in LA – here they were.
Ignore the ticket as there was no support, but this was still two hours of prime-time Prince and the Revolution action which stand up to two hours of anyone else’s prime-time from the last 40 years in my opinion.
I’d never been to Shepherd’s Bush Empire but Gill and I found it easily enough in the afternoon and there were already fans waiting outside presumably for the soundcheck to finish.
Purple Rain t-shirts abounded and one woman was even wearing a beret – I’ll leave you to guess the colour.
By the time the show came around I was more excited than I’d been at a gig for a long time.
The stage set and lighting were fairly simple and there was nothing to suggest the absence of the Purple maestro which was a good tactic to be honest as it wasn’t meant to be a tribute show,
When another vocalist was required, the man chosen to fill those tiny, six inch-heeled shoes was Stokely Williams – a hugely experienced session singer and Minnesota native. Fair play to him as well. He didn’t attempt to be Prince-lite, he was just himself and very good too.
The setlist was a stormer as you can imagine and only when Wendy Melvoin introduced her colleagues, Lisa Coleman, Matt Fink, Brown Mark and Bobby Z, did we get to hear the name Prince.
It was massively emotional to hear these songs again, particularly Take Me With U, Mountains and Kiss which have always been amongst my favourites records of all time, plus they did Baby I’m A Star as an encore – a B-side originally but still better than most would have in their arsenal.
If they come back, don’t miss them.