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Review: Books, Theatre, Movies, Albums & Gigs.

Prince live in concert 2014

Manchester Academy,
Friday 21st, February.

From the very moment His Purple Highness first landed in the United Kingdom and announced a series of his legendary “Hit & Run” gigs, both Press and Purple devotees alike have been left to wait, guess and to speculate as to when and where this most Iconic performer should deem to strike.

After thrilling some of London’s most cherished musical venues, tonight’s turn was to be the Manchester Academy. With tickets selling out in double-quick fashion as soon as both shows were revealed, even the worst of the elements couldn’t stop the flock of Prince Fans from all over the Country decamping around the venue for, when it comes to some of those who worship at the Purple Ones Court, even the merest glimpse is enough to satisfy.

With an atmosphere tinged with anticipation, those luckily enough already packed into the venue did not have to wait long before they were introduced to Prince’s latest protégé; the strikingly set 3RDEYEGIRL. Donna Grantis (Guitar), Ida Neilsen (Bass) & Hannah Ford Welton on the Drums. With all formalities set, it was time to raise the roof with Prince himself, bandana a wrapped around his Afro – echoing that other Purple Guitar great Hendrix – the Maestro launched into opening up the evening’s proceeding with a few less known tracks, a rocking Endorphin Machine and a sultry airing of She’s Always in My Hair, a b-side to 1985’s Raspberry Beret, setting the tone and grabbing the audience from the go. This promised to be an evening of pure musical joy and flow, that all concerned would not forget too soon.

But tonight wasn’t all about about His Royal Badness, as this was also an opportunity for the members of 3RDEYEGIRL to shine and, boy, did they ever. The sheer musicianship on display was at times mesmerising, particular mention must go out to Gratis on (Guitar), who effortlessly jumped from one gear to the next, playing funk, rhythm and down dirty solos at the drop of a hat. Especially on ”Guitar” from the album Planet Earth.

If the crowd were expecting an evening of rarities then they were surely mistaken, with a large selection from 1987’s Sign O’ Times taking in “I Could Never Take Your Man,” “Hot Thing,” a slow grooved Forever in My Life, with a delicious bass solo from the man himself, and then there was the title track. The Apocalyptic inner city critique of 1980’s America, which still carries an important a message as it ever did, whilst still managing to sound as remarkably fresh as ever.

With The Artist proudly sitting at the piano boasting “Yeah, I got lots of hits.”  This wasn’t braggadocio for its own sake, this was a musician giving his upmost to his audience, soaking in the reverence and returning it two-fold with a blistering medley of gems from Purple Rain. The highlight’s being a tender When Doves Cry, an electric Let’s Go Crazy, and a slow deep almost sermon like rendition of Purple Rain, with Prince making a cryptic ethereal connection with the crowd.

There could be no better example of the evening’s more playful spots of musical virtuosity on show than in a cover of Wild Cherry’s 70’s Classic “Play That Funky Music”, with Prince graciously giving Manchester a lesson in music theory by effortlessly deconstructing the songs chord sequence, and then within the time its takes for an impish grin to vanish simply jumping back into the groove.

To view Prince in any setting is to see a master of his craft at work, but this was Prince close, sweaty and free from the constraints of a larger stage, and entirely the better for it.

A Beautiful Experience Indeed!

James Brodie.
James Brodie.





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“Writing gets me away for a while' from this world and into one where I, alone, can make or
break the rules as I see fit.” - Chris High 2003.
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