After Tuesday’s midnight “soundcheck”, last night Prince and his new band were back in Camden for the real thing: the first stop on a “Hit and Run” tour that he has said will last “until people don’t want to hear us anymore.”
That could be quite some time. Having stood for most of the day along a High Street that was deep in beer and wine bottles by the 8pm showtime, there was an unhinged euphoria to those who were finally granted admittance for just £10.
After a recorded blast of the new 3RDEYEGIRL single, PRETZELBODYLOGIC, the striking trio emerged, guitarist Donna Grantis with a slash of shaved hair, bassist Ida Nielsen in a mask. Prince joined them sporting a black waistcoat and a wild afro, and set about menacing his guitar.
It quickly became clear why he wants to tour our clubs and leave the arenas be. With this smaller band he’s making a savage, monstrous noise, keeping the sets short, avoiding the hits and using lesser known songs as launchpads for some serious solos. Even the lone smash, Let’s Go Crazy, was delivered slow and dirty.
The stage set-up was unspectacular, dominated by three of those billowing cloths that are meant to resemble fire outside cheap restaurants. The musicianship, in contrast, was not. “Y’all feel that?” he asked after one squealing episode. We did.
Newer songs such as Fixurlifeup, and a blazing cover of Billy Cobham’s funk instrumental, Stratus, were highlights of a far from obvious setlist.
A sneaky encore long after the lights had gone up was one surprise – an extra gig was another. The fans who stayed in the queue had earned their second event at 11. With much more to come across the city, we’ll see who tires first, Prince or London. It’s going to be lots of fun finding out.