Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Prince vs Bill Oddie

Us - not with Prince
Unless you’ve been cowering in a trench for much of 2014 you’ll know that this year’s definitive live music events have been Prince and his spate of ‘Hit and Run’ gigs.

Out of the blue back in spring, surprise shows started to be announced by the purple one and his band 3rd Eye Girl. The real lob on came from the gigs only being unveiled the day before they were due to take place. Plus they weren’t in the usual Tuborg-filled megadomes custom for artists of his (sales) stature. Instead he’d opted for joints where you might be able to see the whites of his eyes. Oooof. Such cavalier activity made Prince seem like a musical Scarlet Pimpernel, suddenly appearing in random shoeboxes brandishing a killer set of tunes before disappearing again in a puff of smoke.

Unfortunately, despite the hype, we kept missing out on the wee man’s live outings. Indeed we’d given up all hope of checking him until the other Monday when news of some shows at London’s Roundhouse slipped out via Twitter. This time luck was on our side and before we knew it, we were in, having baggsed a trio of tickets after forking out almost 250 notes. It happened so quickly that the dosh had gone out of my account before I’d even realised the golden tickets were ours. Eek and indeed ahrgh. Even more rapidly we found ourselves in a queue outside London’s Roundhouse on a dank Wednesday night standing next to none other than top bird watcher Bill Oddie. Who knew he loved Prince? Who knew he has to queue like every other normal to get in? Who knew that he dresses like a birdwatcher even when there aren’t any birds to be seen? But it was all true - there he was, standing in a puddle with wet socks and sandals on his feet, even keen to have his photo taken.

After meeting Oddie, the evening was already pretty high up there on the top ten list of ‘best evenings ever’ before Prince had even come on or played a note. But when he did, the roof of the Roundhouse almost blew off such was the noise and drama he plugged into our evening. This was the second set of the day for him and his band but they rattled through the hits with huge amounts of feedback and gusto - Let’s Go Crazy, I Wanna Be Your Love, Nothing Compares 2U, Purple Rain – the first 90 minutes were all about the hits and the man himself, boogieing, soloing and flashing Zoolander-esque Blue Steel looks across the crowd. The second half was more about Third Eye Girl and their riffs but, despite the extended jam session that this part became, it was still up there with being the best gig ever. Motherfucking Prince in the room! Three encores later, it all ground to a halt at 1am although it felt like Prince could have kept at it, prancing, dancing and potentially romancing all night. He’s got stamina and hits. Bill Oddie must have loved it...