Saturday evening saw the journey to the O2 Arena at Greenwich to see Prince.
I'd never been to the O2 before or even to the Dome (when it was the Millennium Dome) so that was a bit fun. And how convenient that it has its own tube station. It's quite nice inside, all fresh and new (and over-priced) and the Arena itself looks great, with everyone (at least in theory) getting an excellent view of the stage in the round. I wouldn't want to be up in the gods, though, too high and too steep a climb for me. And seeing the lighting people climb up into the lighting rig was a veritable orgy of vertiginousness (is that a new word?).
In we go after being given a coy of his new album and there's the stage in the shape of Prince's 'symbol'. I start to get excited - that's where Prince will be in half an hour or so, that's right, *Prince*! The crowd assembles and I find I'm sitting behind a giant... even on the banked seating his head still blocks the stage. Why me? Luckily there's enough space to move so I can get a good view of the stage. I saw the band walk into the Arena and disappear under the stage and a big box is wheel in, following them, presumably encasing the Purple One. The lights dim, then blaze and there he is!
He opened with 'Planet Earth' from the new album, standing in the centre of his symbol with guitar in hand, the band in the circle part, and the two singers and dancers striding all round the symbol-stage giving us what-for. The stage is bathed in all the colours you can image and so is Prince, dressed in white with a colourful tunic. The dancers give it some bootylicious hair-flicking, bum-pounding action sufficient to make be feel tired and the singers strut their stuff wearing hat and funky '70s afro, all round giving us a professional show designed to thrill . And it did.
Not much talking from Prince, he launched into one great song after another, on-stage for about one and a half hours, teasing and taunting the audience, going off into guitar solos at the drop of a hat with drums pounding ("not bad for a girl" he says) and horns blaring. The music sounds great but the vocals sounded a bit muddy. They did 'Honky Tonk Women' with Shelby J singing lead and 'The Long And Winding Road' with Prince all soulful (I've never liked that song and still don't) and Shelby leading on Gnarls Barkley's 'Crazy'. He was generous sharing some vocals with Shelby who has a great voice and does good strut.
It was a great show and the Arena seemed fine except for the sound problems. Getting home was a nightmare. First off being ushered out through an exit round the back rather than through the main entrance/exit meant a slow and increasingly painful walk through huge crowds moving slowly through relatively narrow 'streets' of restaurants and bars in a big arc round to the front, not pleasant at all. Then thinking it would be fun to get the clipper boat upriver to Waterloo... unfortunately a lot of other people thought that as well. We eventually got on the midnight boat and arrived at Waterloo after the tube had closed and ended up getting a taxi home (after another queue). Two and a half hours after the show ended we arrive home, knackered and with some of the shine knocked off the show. At least I know for next time!
It was a great show, though, and will stay in the memory for a good while. I loved the stage, bathed in colours and the whole thing was slick and very professional. Highlights for me were '1999', 'Guitar', 'Nothing Compares 2 U', 'Cream' and 'Purple Rain'. I liked the piece of 'Little Red Corvette' delivered by him at the piano as part of a medley (although I thought he'd benefit from playing lessons from Amanda Palmer, far too gentle, making love to his piano) and it was fun when he shouted out, "I've got too many hits".