Gig review: Prince @ Manchester Phones 4U Arena

Flecks of purple could be seen scattered around the Phones 4U Arena as the people of Manchester came in their droves to witness a heart-pounding and awe-inspiring musical master class from the genius that is Prince.

Those dressed in hues of purple ranging from lilac to aubergine had done so at the request of the man himself, the cultural icon who has been entertaining crowds for nearly four decades.

From the moment Prince stepped on the stage it was abundantly clear why this petite funk powerhouse is still packing out arenas.

In the first 30 minutes he served up a medley of anthems starting with high octane  Lets Go Crazy he swung into Take Me With You, Raspberry Beret, You Got the Look and the showstopper that is Kiss.

This was an introduction of all killers, no fillers.

Earlier this year Prince fever swept the country when he announced a handful of select intimate gigs with his new band 3RDEYEGIRL.

Crowds queued for hours outside the Manchester Academy to catch a glimpse of the maestro doing what he does best, but those gigs were not enough to satisfy the nation’s insatiable appetite for Prince and when his six- date arena tour was announced, the scramble for tickets was just as frantic.

Although one would assume the huge venue would lack the intimacy the Academy had, Prince created an intense and intimate atmosphere, particularly with his piano-side heartfelt renditions of Diamonds and Pearls and The Beautiful Ones.  

By taking the lights right down at points throughout the set he brought the audience closer, ensuring everyone was very much focused on his performance.

On the flip side as thousands of people sang every word of When Doves Cry, Controversy and Little Red Corvette, it felt like some of Prince’s tunes were made for a stage this big.

At one point in the show, just before the first of his two encores, it sounded like there may have been some minor sound issues.

Those at the front could see Prince throwing a towel and gesticulating wildly backstage – you do not get to where Prince is at without being a perfectionist.

Despite this, he was back on stage minutes later poised, on form and effortlessly cool; the sound had been fixed and the party continued.

3RDEYEGIRL were dazzling, the group are sassy, powerful, and have buckets of talent. A special mention must go out to the young guitarist, Donna Grantis whose riffs, licks and solos embraced Prince’s own, as she strutted around the stage like an old-school master.

As expected, Prince was throwing out some serious shapes like a man half his age, he’s aged incredibly well and has definitely still got the magic!

All the material from the legend’s latest album Plectrum Electrum went down incredibly well. 

Funknroll and Fixupyourlife were energetic and exciting, and an updated version of Something in the Water was simply sublime.  

By the end of the new numbers, Prince had the audience singing along as if they were classics.

For the occasion he was dressed in a 70’s-inspired ensemble including a white tunic with an image of himself on the back paired with white flared trousers.

Prince is known for his eccentric forward thinking sense of style and so the stage looked rather modest for such an icon.  

A few costume changes also wouldn’t have gone a miss, but in fairness this show was about the music first and foremost.

A true performer, Prince had the audience captivated as they took a trip down memory lane with the odd funky detour of new material thrown in for good measure.

It was impossible to not feel moved when Prince’s finale Purple Rain echoed through the vast stadium, and as the final chords faded out and the lights came on, thousands of overwhelmed faces looked to one another, confirming that they had just been in the presence of greatness.

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