Prince & 3rdEyeGirl @ Birmingham LG Arena – 15th May 2014

Prince & 3rdEyeGirl @ Birmingham LG Arena – 15th May 2014Prince & 3rdEyeGirl @ Birmingham LG Arena – 15th May 2014Prince & 3rdEyeGirl @ Birmingham LG Arena – 15th May 2014


An email sent to ticket holders ahead of Prince’s first Birmingham gig in 19 years read “Please wear something purple! We also kindly ask you to bring no cameras and to not use your phones to film or take photos during the concerts. Let’s all enjoy the shows through our own eyes together.” And for the first time in years the LG Arena was a sea of people watching the show and experiencing the moment rather than updating their social media status. It was actually a little strange, but ultimately refreshing. Of course there were plenty who did try to take the odd photo but many of these were given a quick warning that if they continued they would be removed from the venue.

Indeed, there were many things that were unusual about tonight’s gig. First of all tickets only went on sale 13 days prior to the event, although nobody was worried about Prince struggling to sell out the 16,000 capacity venue. There was no support act. For an arena show, the stage show was minimal – just 3 video screens above the stage, simple lighting and a set which would easily have fitted into an Academy-sized venue. But the most unique thing about tonight was Prince.

Over his career Prince has become one of the most respected and influential artists in musical history, with ten platinum albums, dozens of hit singles and a massive hit movie. He has sold over 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all time, as well as winning seven Grammy Awards, a Golden Globe and an Academy Award. And, at 55 years of age, he shows no sign of slowing down any time soon.

Prince was due on stage tonight at 8pm but it’s 8:40 by the time the lights in the arena go down. A massive roar of excitement fills the venue, followed by confusion as the lights all go up again. Then down again. And up again. And then finally down as the word FUNK appears on the curtain covering the stage. Whether this is Prince being his notoriously playful self or a genuine mistake is unclear but I like to believe it’s the former. As the curtain drops, our hero is revealed, dressed all in white, afro looking resplendent, holding a bunch of balloons which he immediately lets float away as he kicks into the opening of new song, Funknroll. “So finally beloved we meet at last, middle of the here, never mind the past. Only way to get to where you’ve never been is to party like you ain’t gonna party again. Let’s funk. Let’s roll”, he sings, setting the tone for an evening of incredible music spanning 2 hours and 25 minutes.

Take Me With U is up next and begins a sequence of huge songs which include Raspberry Beret, U Got The Look and a reworking of crowd favourite, Kiss. Prince does a brilliant job of reinventing some of his biggest songs, including a a half-speed, heavier version of Let’s Go Crazy, which has added stomp and swagger. 30 years have passed since the classic Purple Rain album and movie, and it’s great to see him injecting new life into his old material in this way.


Throughout the set Prince reminds us what a gifted musician he is, particularly on guitar. On many occasions he drifts off mid-song into extended solos and jams with his superb band, 3rdEyeGirl. He keeps us guessing throughout, stop-starting songs, dropping in short teasers of others and, on a couple of occasions, exiting the stage altogether as his band keep the funked up jams rolling. 3rdEyeGirl prove without a doubt that they’ve not only been hired for their good looks. The all-girl trio are amazingly impressive alongside the undoubted genius of the main man. Notably, guitar player, Donna Grantis, is constantly brilliant as she struts around the stage in heels while delivering some stunning solo work.

The middle section of tonight’s show is where Prince vears dangerously close to losing our attention. Extended jams, a bass solo and a lack of big hits sees queues building up at the bar and many people sitting down where they were previously dancing in the aisles. The talent on display never lets up but a few more crowd pleasers in there would have kept the atmosphere in the room higher. As an artist, I respect Prince’s right to express himself and to experiment. He’s more than earned it. I just believe that his role as entertainer, especially when many here had paid upwards of £100 per ticket, began to get lost in the mix there for a while.

How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore takes the tempo down for a few minutes, allowing Prince’s flawless vocals to really shine, and Diamonds & Pearls sounds as beautiful as ever.

A funked up Controversy delights his long term fans before a rousing 1999 has the whole arena back on his side. It’s a real highlight of the night which segues nicely into Little Red Corvette before Prince steps behind his synthesisers and starts throwing out hits left, right and centre. Looking more like a DJ behind his decks than the rock star, he delivers When Doves Cry, Sign Of The Times and a snippet of Alphabet Street in quick succession before the brilliant sex-funk of Hot Thing, Housequake and the Vanity 6 tune, Nasty Girl.

The main set finishes with the breezy Pop Life and an uplifting run through I Would Die 4 U before Prince returns and dedicates the magnificent Purple Rain to his audience. The song sounds as epic and classic as any rock song ever written as the air fills with confetti but there’s still one more surprise left…

Prince thanks the crowd, tells them he loves them and he and his band leave the stage. Hundreds of fans begin to make their way out of the arena but the lights stay down. Eventually he wanders back on stage. “There’s a strict curfew but we’re gonna try and jam til they shut us down” he announces before a blistering cover of Wild Cherry’s classic Play The Funky Music. It’s a fantastic finale and, at slightly after the 11pm curfew, he leaves the stage one last time.

An unquestionably brilliant night of music, featuring some of the biggest pop and rock songs of our generation. I would have loved to have heard Gett Off, Sexy MF and My Name Is Prince but I’m certainly not gonna complain. Prince remains a true musical genius and absolute showman who plays by his own rules. And that’s just fine with me.

Set List:
Take Me With U
Raspberry Beret
U Got the Look
Empty Room
Let’s Go Crazy
She’s Always in My Hair
Plectrum Electrum
Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)
(w/ Bass Solo)
What’s My Name?
How Come U Don’t Call Me Anymore
Diamonds and Pearls
The Beautiful Ones
Electric Intercourse
(Piano Acoustic)
Little Red Corvette
Sampler set
When Doves Cry
Sign “☮” the Times
Alphabet St.
Forever in My Life
Hot Thing
Nasty Girl
(Vanity 6 cover)
The Most Beautiful Girl in the World
Pop Life
I Would Die 4 U
Purple Rain
Encore 2:
Play That Funky Music
(Wild Cherry cover)

Review – Steve Gerrard

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