An Audience with His Purpleness

On Saturday, I was at Prince’s concert in Malahide Castle. It was one of the best gigs I’ve ever been to. I came out knackered and hoarse. My feet and legs ached from dancing in a confined space for nearly three hours. Actually, it was more jumping up and down – it’s hard to dance very expressively in a packed crowd (my wife says that was probably just as well).
I’m not a big follower, but I absolutely love some of his music, and the other night, he showed that he was in a class of his own when it came to working a crowd.
Things didn’t start off well. The audience all gathered in a queue for about an hour, waiting for the gates to open, and then we waited again as endless sound checks resulted in the support act starting nearly an hour late. It was all looking suspiciously suggestive of the behaviour of a man who has a well-earned reputation as an outrageous prima-donna (in fact, let us just skip right past his dodgy TAFKAP phase). There were plenty of food stalls to take our money as we waited, but very little in the way of merchandise, and I’m always on the look-out for good t-shirts.
The support act he brought with him, ‘The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble‘ – a kind of brass band funk – were good at what they did. But I don’t think they had the measure of the crowd, and quality music though it was, after we’d endured such a long wait, it all sounded a bit like a Starsky & Hutch soundtrack.
Prince was nearly another hour appearing on-stage, but when he did, he was greeted by a massive roar. Compared to the kinds of stage sets you see big acts appearing on now, his looked a bit dated – the graphics seemed downright eighties. And he rarely had more than three or four people visible on stage with him, despite the big sound.
None of that mattered once he started playing. From the moment he opened his mouth, he proceeded to blow our socks off. Sockless, we were. He might have been small enough to fit in pint glass, but he put on a stonking good show, pounding out hit after hit: ‘Let’s Go Crazy’, ‘1999’, ‘Raspberry Beret’, ‘Little Red Corvette’, ‘When Doves Cry’, ‘Kiss’, ‘Cream’, ‘Sign o’ the Times’  and plenty of others, blending them, drawing them out in a way that could easily have been annoying, but actually worked just right. It was brilliant.
The following morning, I went walking in the Wicklow Mountains – the first time in a few months – great for clearing the head and loosening off the legs, but a bit taxing after so little sleep. Walking across the Spink with my mum and my stepson, I still had those tunes in my head.