Karol called me on Tuesday and asked if I wanted to go to a Prince concert the following day. It’s been Karol’s dream but the latest Hit And Run tour, with last minute gigs to which you couldn’t get any tickets, has been good for kids and the jobfree, not for old farts like us. Not this time! To those of you who haven’t been to his majesty’s concert – here’s what to expect.
1. YOU WILL BE MADE TO WAIT. AND YOU WON’T MIND.
You will expect to wait ten, maybe fifteen minutes before you’re allowed to enter the venue. But the way it works is this: the longer the line, the bigger the hype. And the longer you wait, the more you appreciate what you waited for. We got our tickets online a day before the gig. The show was to start at 5:30pm and I was in Chalk Farm just before five. There were people on folded chairs right at the front of an already long queue. I wondered: why queue up if we have tickets and so went for a coffee instead. Half an hour later, the queue was four times longer and we finally joined it with Karol. The Roundhouse’s capacity is only 1700 people, there was no need to wait more than a quarter of an hour. We waited 90 minutes. At the time I believed it a disrespectful attitude of spoilt royalty and a waste of time. But as soon as the concert started my beliefs changed. I had a lesson in forgiveness. And so will you.
2. YOU WON’T USE YOUR PHONE.
It’s a well-known fact that Prince hates piracy, Youtube, his fansites and the Internet in general. And so it comes as no surprise that he doesn’t want you to record his gigs. We were welcomed by Hannah Ford who, in simple words, explained what it is to actually experience a live performance and kindly asked us not to use our phones. People were nice and listened. Of course there were some twats who simply had to snap a photo during the show but I counted 2 (two!) phones and even they disappeared in a split of a second. I wish all artists had similar approach to their performances… Seeing a forest of hands with mobile phones instead of people dancing and enjoying the show will never cease to disappoint me.
3. YOU WILL BE EFFORTLESSLY ENTERTAINED.
You will be teased and led to believe that this song or that song will be played from the very beginning to the very end. They will be mixed, they will be cut, torn and disposed off. You will hear that piano intro and expect more chords only to find out there won’t be any and you will smile at the way Prince plays with you and his music. You’re not stupid, you know he’s been doing this for a long, long time. “How can you remember 1982??? This was the sound then!” he will shout before the classic She’s Always In My Hair and if, like me, you couldn’t remember 1982 as you were busy developing skills like eating solids then, you won’t help but laugh. And interact. Dance. And clap your hands. And raise the roof. But what’s most important – you will sing. Sing along or repeat, at times pretty bizarre, sounds because Prince will encourage you to. His enthusiasm will be contagious.
4. YOU WILL ADMIT THE GUY’S A GENIUS.
Not too keen on guitar solos? You’re gonna love them. Not a fan of ballads? You will regret you don’t know all of them, not just Nothing Compares 2 U, by heart. Never been into dance? You won’t take your eyes off his moves. Thought Purple Rain had been played too often? You will sing that famous howling part over and over again.You will stare at Prince and experience that wonderful feeling of joy that always appears when you watch a professional at work. And you’ll love it.
5. AND YOU WILL WANT MOOOOOORE!
After two encores and over 2,5h of music, I couldn’t believe it was over. Karol was partly deaf for a day, I became a victim of tinnitus for the evening. And we felt great. Now we’re playing Prince for days on end and promise ourselves to go to another of his gigs soon. It was a very typical reaction. So beware: this could all happen to you;)