Prince’s sensational solo show


Prince | Piano and Microphone | Perth Arena | Feb 25 2016 | ★ ★ ★ ★ ★

The almost sell-out crowd of 12,000 people waiting to enter the auditorium at Perth Arena were full of anticipation ahead of Prince’s first ever show in Perth.

The doors to the performance space were guarded by attendants and the audience weren’t allowed in until just 15 minutes before the show began. Phones were forbidden, and anyone trying to capture a selfie even before the show began, was quickly tapped on the shoulder and reminded of the strict conditions.

The lights dimmed to blackness and the square box in the centre of the auditorium rose into the air revealing a grand piano surrounded by cameras. The floor an ever changing kaleidoscope of patterns, which was mirrored on the video screens now suspended above the performance space. Candelabras stood a different corners of the stage and circles of candles sat of the floor.

Prince emerged from a tunnel, carrying a decorative walking stick, and made his way to the stage to thunderous applause.

“Perth, get ready to free yourselves”, his purple holiness declared, “Do not use your cell phones, you don’t need them here.”

Prince placed his decorative disco stick at the side of the piano, and launched into the instantly recognisable sound of ‘I Would Die 4 U’ .

Video cameras displayed Prince playing on massive video screens above the stage, but the lighting was dark, and the shots closely zoomed in for the first part of the show, forcing the audience to focus on the music and the sound of Prince’s impeccable voice.

The staging was clever. A intimate show for 12,000 people was possible. The simplicity of a talented performer, a piano and a massive catalogue of songs, it was a winning combination.

Songs from Prince’s early career came quickly, ‘Take Me With U’, ‘Little Red Corvette’ and ‘I Feel for You’ were all at the top of the show. Prince segued from one song into another, often merging the melodies together.

Sly and the Family Stone’s ‘Stand’ was the first cover thrown into the mix, later on Ray Charles ‘Unchain my Heart’ would get a workout. ‘Dirty Mind’ and ‘Controversy’ had the crowd singing along. ‘Pop Life’ from ‘Around the World in a Day’ was a joy, and the crowd got really crazy when the instantly recognisable sound of ‘Raspberry Beret’ appeared.

Prince showed his great sense of humour when he started talking about how he used to look at his father admiring himself in the mirror wearing sharp suits. The comical introduction catapulted us into ‘Cream’ and then the epic ‘Purple Rain’.

This wasn’t just a show about the hits though, tracks from his newest 39th album ‘Hit & Run: Phase Two’ were also included. ‘Rocknroll Loveaffair’ went down a treat, and ‘Black Muse’ was another highlight.

Prince left the crowd wanting more, he jumped onto a bicycle and rode back to the tunnel he’d emerged from at the side of the auditorium. A few minutes later he was back for the first of two encores.

“I’d like to play you one of my biggest ballads” Prince said before yelling “Psyche!” and launching into a giant sing-a-long to the mega-hit ‘Kiss’ mashed in with ‘Black Sweat’.

‘Free Urself’ brought us back to Price’s opening question. The stand alone single, released last year, was as fresh and funky as any of his classic hits.

A second encore saw him sing the song he wrote, but Sinead O’Connor made famous, ‘Nothing Compares 2 u’ was filled with emotion.

The party came to an end with the grinding and percussive ‘Purple Music’ with Prince calling on fans to “clap their hands – double time”. The never released song was first reportedly recorded back in the early ’80s and it was a catchy tune with a strong anti-drug message.

Prince left the crowd chanting about being free, and he picked up his walking stick and left the building. One of the best live shows this city has ever seen. As the crowd left the Perth Arena they were treated to a free copy of his latest album, something of a tradition at Prince’s shows.

Later in the night Prince threw an after party at Eve nightclub at Crown Casino, playing another 45 minute set.

Graeme Watson