Tuesday 13 August 2013

Prince Rocks Amsterdam By Surprise

picture by 3rd Eye Girl

Whenever Prince Roger Nelson shows himself, Prince mania starts. Will he do some surprise shows? He only joined Larry Graham for a few minutes last month at the North Sea Jazz festival but was the talk of the town. Last Friday, out of the blue, he announced two shows on one night in my favourite venue Paradiso. To be able to see this brilliant musician in a venue that can hold 1500 people is very special. Although I already did see him play a club show once before, I made sure to get tickets. It sold out in minutes, but fortunately I was among the lucky few.

Prince & 3rd Eye Girl at Paradiso Amsterdam, August 11 2013

picture by 3rd Eye Girl

A long line awaits us when we get to the venue. They didn't open the doors at the time announced and everyone wants to get in early for a good spot. When the line starts moving we're inside within no time and are even standing on our usual spot. Signs make clear that taking pictures is not allowed and whoever breaks this rule will get ejected from the show. 3rd Eye Girl drummer Hannah Ford walks up the stage to tell us that one more time before the show takes off. Still afterwards people are indignantly telling they got booted from the venue for taking pictures. Although you can argue about how useful this is, they had plenty of warnings and were willing to take the risk.

picture by 3rd Eye Girl

When the show starts Paradiso is shivering with excitement. Prince leads off with a groovy and bluesy version of 'Let's Go Crazy'. His last band who were heavy on funk and soul has been replaced with a three piece all female band. Only bass player Ida Nielsen is a familiar face. Although his seventies soul-like appearance makes you think otherwise, Prince is in a rock mood and so he needs a rock band backing him up. The three ladies are totally up for that. Smoke machines are blowing smoke with great force and a confetti canon explodes. Prince means business tonight. Guitar player Donna Grantis seems to have some technical issues though and in the third song of the set, 'Screwdriver', they stop halfway. Prince says "Let me fix this" and walks off stage while the light is turned off. In the pitch dark crew members are trying to fix the problem while everyone is waiting anxiously for the show to continue. It won't affect the show will it?

It won't. When the problem is fixed, lights flash on again and the band goes right back into 'Screwdriver' as if nothing happened. Prince's face doesn't show any sign of concern or irritation. He's mostly playing his guitar, moving around in his usual fashion. He's throwing smiles around to his band and the crowd and looks like he's enjoying himself. Sometimes you forget what a great guitar player he is, but after tonight you never will again. He's firing off one great solo and riff after another. When you close your eyes a little, you even think Jimi Hendrix himself is playing that stage. Grantis gets plenty of time to show off her skills as well, while the master himself is watching her approvingly.

picture by 3rd Eye Girl

One and a half hour fly by where they play new songs, rare songs and a bluesy version of 'I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man' followed by the song that captures the whole night: 'Guitar'. "I love you baby but not like I love my guitar" seems to be Prince's mantra now. After this dazzling first part the encore starts with a beautiful and touching version of 'Sometimes It Snows in April'. The contrast couldn't be bigger with the rest of the set. It is well chosen and creates a magical moment. The second encore starts with a vicious version of Billy Cobham's instrumental 'Stratus' where Nielsen is allowed to show her bass talent.

picture by 3rd Eye Girl

To everyone's excitement "His Royal Badness" ends the show with a rearranged version of 'Purple Rain'. It's one of the few moments he's playing piano. One last time confetti is fluttering down in purple light while we're all singing along to the famous falsetto "woohoo's". Prince took Paradiso by storm tonight. 3rd Eye Girl may not be as virtuously and funky as his old band, but they make up for it with a lot of heart. And boy do they know how to rock. It made Prince look more eager and younger than we've seen him in a long time. Not many of the people in here tonight will probably ever see anything that will top this. I don't think I will ever come closer to a musical genius playing a magical rock show.

01. Let's Go Crazy
02. Endorphinmachine
03. Screwdriver
04. She's Always in My Hair
05. Liathach(Jo Hamilton cover)
06. I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man
07. Guitar
08. Plectrum Electrum
09. FixUrLifeUp
10. I Like It There
11. Bambi
12. Cause and Effect
Encore 1
13. Sometimes It Snows in April
14. Dreamer
Encore 2
15. Stratus(Billy Cobham cover)
16. Purple Rain

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