we were gathered there Saturday to celebrate a man called Prince
And I'm here to tell ya .... he was mighty fine. You can see him stood at the point of the symbol here.......
Yes. My long quest to see the man himself ended on Saturday. It was attempt 7 in all.
My first try was way back in about 1990 ... the day of the gig, I had a flat tyre. Several other attempts over the years meant that within 24hrs of the gig, I had to literally give the tickets to friends as money, work and even death stood in my way. But not this time, oh no.
I am still completely bollocksed all the time, so spent Friday night in to get some energy together to last the gig. I got up around 9 on Saturday and mooched about, didn't rush anything, set off to pick Rach up about half ten, got to Swindon about midday. It was pissing it down in wales .. scorching hot by the time I got past Bristol. We sat at Rach's for about 45 mins before we set off for that there London. Had to go back in and get the tickets. headed out. Went back up to her flat to get CD1 of Prince's greatest hits to get us in the mood. Back to the car. Went back again for directions to get to Richie's to park the car (he is in Bermondsey, so only four stops up to the O2)
Upon arriving in London (after a motorway stop to much some lunch and sit in the sun at the services .. KFC .. yum), I decided it was too hot to sit in the car in London traffic, so we parked at Hounslow instead and tubed it across. If Rich was going to be home, I'd have done it .. but he wasn't so didn't see the point.
The tube became foolishly crowded, natch, so we hopped off at Knightsbridge and had a swan around Harrods and Harvey Nichs. Managed to catch the eye of a very hot young guy working on the perfume counter ... all long blonde hair, deep brown eyes and a sexy growth of chest hair on display.... played the 'walk by twice then on third go, keep looking down and then lift eyes to meet his and smile' tactic. I made him blush and got a HUGE grin out of him .... oh yeah, still got it, despite being a sweaty tub of lard.
We then had a walk across St James park to get the tube down to the O2. Rach was given two copies of the Prince CD .... note to self, have underwear in your bag if you want extra freebies.
We had a swan around the O2 and then settled for more grease from their food bars. I had seven members of staff put my order together and had a bit of a camp moment talking to them.
We then took our seats in the vertigo inducing upper tier (just three rows back and 16 seats across form where I sat for Scissor Sisters. God that was a boring bit of info) to watch the support act. Carlo Pasta or something. She wasn't really my cup of tea to be fair. Possibly more for the gold lame tent and thigh high white pvc boots she was wearing than anything to do with her vocals. Even though after the first song one member of the crowd did shout at her 'we cant hear what you are saying', which was a fair comment if you ask me. I went out for a wee and some more drinks halfway through her set.
Then, at 9.00, the lights went out again. The stage was the symbol Prince changed his name to briefly during the 90s and was set in the centre of the arena. Some lucky buggers had seats at purple velvet draped tables within the symbol itself. As a clever ruse to get us to not see him enter (read: as see through as shrink wrap), our attention was diverted to the view screens for a few minutes to watch a few clips and talking heads. This was all well and good while the band and dancers were lead through the audience to hide under the stage, but the moment Prince was brought out, the darkness became a sea of camera flashes, so we saw him very clearly, lit up in his white suit, as he was brought through.
And then the music began. Starting with Lets Go Crazy, he then did a full two hour set featuring a range of tracks encompassing his 30 year career. Other tracks included Kiss, U Got the Look, I Would Die 4 U, Raspberry Beret .. ooh it was brilliant! In Kiss, he replaced 'You don't have to watch Dynasty to have an attitude' with Big Brother, which made me chuckle. He can still move with the best of them, even though I did notice his trademark splits didn't make an appearance, but was suitably replaced by his very flexible twin dancers holding up one of their own legs apiece to play them like a guitar. I wonder what Prince sees in them though?
Rach and I managed to get an outrageous amount of synchronised chair dancing going on, but we had somehow managed to be sat amongst the ONLY section of the entire arena who didn't get up and dance for most of the gig ... and when a few people did, the Hitler in training on the door made them sit down in case they were blocking homebody's view. Clearly, this man does not actually understand how gigs work in the UK. We are British and therefore are a bit reserved in such things. Everyone secretly wants to be on their feet and giving it some but nobody likes to be the first. None of that applies to me of course.... when I want to get up and shake my groove thang, I fucking well do it. And why not? I've paid my money to enjoy myself not sit back with some knitting and give the face to anyone having fun. Another couple beat me to the ass wiggling .. and that was when the Third Reich struck. At one point, looking around the arena, we were the ONLY people not on our feet. I gave them the first hour as a courtesy .. but then U Got The Look kicked in ... and I was UP BABY! I was just mentally daring the man behind us to tell me to sit down. Almost hoping he would so I could give him what for. he didn't. He just kept on about wishing Joni Mitchell was going to make a surprise appearance. Mate ...if you want to see Joni Mitchell in concert, GO TO A FUCKING JONI MITCHELL CONCERT. Rocket science it ain't. Still, he left before the end. Possibly got fed up with my lard arse wiggling in his face, which is odd as some people pay me for that shit. Not literally you understand. My ring was clean, possibly a bit musky with man scent, but that would be about it. I am quite anal about such things.
Two other things of note to mention here. At one point, what appeared to be a random section of the audience were taken onstage to dance around. Still not sure they weren't stooges .. but if they were, he picked people with only minor dance skills to make it look real enough even if they did seem to know where to stand, when to move etc. The other is a sax solo to blow you away. Mike Philly who used to play for James Brown apparently. The man held one note for about 4 mins as he walked around the stage.... stunning. That was the thing that really stood this out from most gigs i go to. The quality of the musicians was clearly top priority here. As great as they are I am sure for everyone else, a lot of the clinical 'set list' and dance moves was gone. It had a raw, dirty energy that you could feel deep in your booty.
The gig ended with an encore of Purple Rain and Little Red Corvette. We cheered, we roared, the house lights came up, only half the people left, we needed to two house announcements to get us to shut up and leave. Now THAT'S a good gig.