U Got The Hooks

I’ll need to re-edit this with a scan of my ticket to prove I was there, but when an extra date at Birmingham’s LG Arena got added to Prince’s Hit and Run tour I took the plunge.

I should have written about it the next day when the electricity of his performance was still lighting up my world, but even from the distance of a couple of weeks it remains an astonishing show.

The LG Arena is a fairly soulless tin box, so imbuing it with soul, funk, pop and rock took some doing. But when you can start your set with Let’s Go Crazy, Take Me With U, Raspberry Beret and U Got the Look, the surroundings count for little.

Yes, I know they’re all `old’ songs, but this was a show stuffed with highlights from more than 30 years. What is still astonishing is the maestro’s range. He could turn up at just about any festival – pop, alt, metal, dance, whatever – and turn in an hour and half better than anybody else on the bill in the style demanded by the promoter.

Here we got two and a half hours crammed with highlights including the reclaiming of Nothing Compares 2 U, an epic Purple Rain and a transcendent 1999 that reduced me to tears, just because an hour in and he was cranking our classic after classic. Those opening synth bars took the whole thing off the scale.

Neither his voice nor his playing have diminished over time, and maybe the dancing is a little less dramatic, but at 55 that’s hardly a surprise. He still cuts a mean rug though.

I thought the scene was set for him to be announced as Glastonbury’s Saturday headliner this year and he would fit that bill perfectly if the deal can ever be struck.

When you look at some of the dullards who have `graced’ the Pyramid stage in recent years, there’s definitely scope for the colour Purple.

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Purple pain…

So far these have all been reviews of gigs I’ve been to.

Unsuprising really as they have been based on tickets I still have in my possession.

But I couldn’t let the appearance of Prince in Manchester last weekend pass without comment – not least because I didn’t go.

When the tickets for the Academy went on sale I was blissfully unaware. I arrived in work the following morning to read `sold out’ stories on all major news websites.

Then there was a shaft of light. A certain number would be kept back for people to buy on the door. I ummed and aahed; watched the news and saw a big, long line of people queueing and thought better of it.

The reviews were sensational, but it was Prince after all, and then came the kicker – it hadn’t sold out!

Not all the door tickets had gone as only 250-300 of those kept back had actually been bought. Maybe stupid people like me had thought there had to be enough diehard Prince fans to see these snapped up. Personally I didn’t think anywhere near that many would be available. I thought maybe 100, tops, and that I would be left outside in the rain as the final ones were sold, weeping bitter tears.

But that wouldn’t have been the case. I would have been inside, bathing in the glow of the Minneapolis maestro.

So I can’t even say so near and yet so far. He turned up and I didn’t.