Joe Holyoake praises Prince’s new sound after catching an underground gig in Camden.
There are only so many forum rumours and Twitter rumblings that one can take. Having played an open soundcheck to journalists and a few lucky fans in the Ballroom the night before, Prince was supposed to be making another, earlier appearance at the same venue. That was enough to convince me to catch the tube up to Camden and stand outside the gaudy market for 6 hours (number of ‘keep calm and…’ T shirts sold – none), waiting for this dream opportunity.
It was a long endurance test of idle chit-chat, space-saving, rum-sharing and rain-cowering, but as darkness set over and the Ballroom’s doors finally opened, the excitement was palpable. For the very student-friendly price of £10, we were going to see a genuine megastar in the sort of venue that’s normally frequented by your warm-lager, lower-rank indie band.
The man himself was, as you’d expect, completely mesmerising. Sporting a mini-fro, not seen since his debut album cover, and a black sleeveless leather jacket, he glided round the stage, whimsically switching instruments whenever the mood took him. It was impossible to take your eyes off him, for fear of him disappearing. We were treated to that trademark hoarse Prince screech, as well as countless noodling solos and extended jams.
Having grown up with the slick and multi-layered production of his 80’s records, his new band, 3RDEYEGIRL, are a revolution away from the Revolution. Heavier, tighter, yet still retaining that joyous funk, this new direction is Prince of the Stone Age. Whilst avoiding a Rolling Stones-esque romp through the hits, the odd foray into his extensive back catalogue saw old favourites given a new, sleazy lick. Let’s go Crazy and I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man were slowed down and beefed up, with more recent singles Guitar and PRETZELBODYLOGIC showing off the punkier edge to his new sound.
Never one to be backward-looking, the songs played off the upcoming album Plectrum Electrum, suggests that this could finally be the return to form that his fans are desperate for. Despite a relatively short set of just over an hour, Prince delivered an exciting and energetic show in gloriously surreal surroundings, which I’d quite happily queue for twice as long to catch again.