Entertainment & Arts

Prince to charge $10 for live shows

Image copyright Handout
Image caption Prince and his new band 3rd Eye Girl performed two shows in London on Tuesday

Pop star Prince has played two secret shows in London with his new band 3rd Eye Girl.

An intimate performance for 10 people, held in the living room of his friend, singer Lianne La Havas, was accompanied by a small press conference to announce a series of upcoming UK shows.

Prince announced he wanted to charge "about $10" (£6) for each ticket.

It was followed by a late-night show at Camden's Electric Ballroom, billed by the singer as a "sound check".

Matt Everitt of BBC 6 Music News was one of the few in attendance at the first event on Tuesday and here gives his impressions of what took place.

Lianne La Havas's front room in Leyton, east London, had been turned into a venue, with purple stage lights and acoustic instruments.

It is only about 9ft by 18ft and there was just me, two other journalists, Lianne, her two housemates and Prince's crew - serious-looking sound guys and security (who numbered about 10) - all waiting for the man to turn up. And at 20:15 GMT, he did.

He led his new band - the three piece 3rd Eye Girl - through two new songs from the upcoming album Plectrum Electrum, including the new single PretzelBodyLogic. He described the new tunes as "funk 'n' roll".

Lianne didn't perform with Prince. But she did do a stripped-down performance of the Little Dragon song Twice and a brand new unfinished song off her next album, which has the working title of Shapes.

"I probably feel just as gobsmacked as you and everyone else here. What we've witnessed is very special," she said afterwards.

"I feel very honoured to just know someone who's that great at playing music," she continued.

"And [Prince is] sharing music in the way it should be shared. Just off the cuff, whenever you feel, just let people know, tell your friends and then… play."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prince performed at last year's Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas

So this is what we learnt about Prince...

  • 1. He looks phenomenal - afro, huge round purple-tinted sunglasses, black furry jerkin, skin-tight black roll-neck and flares.
  • 2. Prince smells great - I presume he uses Princense.
  • 3. Prince does not like being recorded during interviews. He didn't want to speak into the mic, and there were no photos allowed in the house. That said, he was happy to discuss anything. There were no rules from management about what we could ask.
  • 4. He LOVES his new band. "We've been together for over a year and it's perfect. The more we play, the more fun it is, and addictive it is.'' Much of the new album came out of numerous day-long jamming sessions at his Paisley Park recording studios.
  • 5. Prince doesn't sleep much. He'd appeared at a club in New York to launch the single PretzelBodyLogic at 2am then flown to the UK, landed in London, dropped his bags off at an undisclosed location and then come to Lianne's house.
  • 6. Technically it was the first gig of a UK tour of sorts - or at least the first in a series of shows that Prince intends to play around London, in what he described as "iconic venues". While nothing was confirmed in terms of dates or specifics, he did say he was interested in maybe playing places like Ronnie Scott's, the Bag O'Nails Club (the legendary Soho '60s hang-out that's only recently re-opened) and the Electric Ballroom in London - which is where he played later that night. There were about 100 people there, but as word spread on Twitter more and more turned up.
  • 7. He won't be doing a series of large O2-scale shows like he did in 2007: "That was a different time, this is a different band." But he did say he and his band would "work our way up, if people like us, to bigger venues". When asked how long he'd be here he said his trip was "open-ended", explaining "we're going to be here until people don't want to hear us anymore."
  • 8. It's Purple Rain's 30th anniversary this year but Prince wasn't even aware of that. He looked surprised to be told about it, saying "I hadn't even realised", and was not that interested in looking back at the making of the record. "Everything looks different to me, because I was there. I wrote those songs, I don't need to know what happened," he explained.
  • 9. He's going to keep tickets for the shows cheap. "We want to charge about $10 a ticket. This is a new band, people are getting something new."
  • 10. He likes tea. With lots of Manuka honey. A lot of honey.
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Last year Prince presented an award at the Grammys
  • 11. I asked him about Glastonbury and he has heard of it. "Do you want me to play there tomorrow?" he joked before insisting he was "concentrating on these shows in London, I don't know what's happening after". To which I asked "That's not a no though?", to which he said, "No!"
  • 12. He's looking at recording all the shows he does in London. He loves the new record, but live "is a different thing" with these musicians. "There's a certain feeling that we get when we play - this is perfection. This is just perfect." He said their relationship is "friends first" and they don't have any contracts; "They're not signed to me and I'm not signed to them. This is the way it always should have been. I've had my issues with labels in the past, but that all happened for a reason."
  • 13. Legend says that every room in his famous Paisley Park recording studio complex is wired for sound - the hallway, the bathroom, the bedrooms - so that wherever he is in the building he can just start recording if he feels like it. Sadly, this isn't true.
  • 14. But there is a huge amount of unreleased music in the Paisley Park vaults - and there's a treasure trove of old recordings to which he owns the rights that may see the light of day. He'd rather people wait to hear that than listen to bootlegs. "When you hear something [on bootleg] you're just hearing something that's not finished," he explained. "A song from 1985 might come out in 2021. I have a whole organisation who look after stuff."
  • 15. There was a story last week saying he was taking a $22m (£13m) legal action against 22 internet users who allegedly posted copies of his live performances online. In response to that he simply said "Nobody sues their fans", before adding: "I have some bootlegs of Lianne [La Havas] but I wouldn't sell them. But fans sharing music with each other, that's cool."
  • 16. On his last trip to London he did record some songs. "Bryan Ferry let us use his studio very kindly, we went there," he explained. "I was listening to a lot of Cocteau Twins at the time."
  • 17. He loves ping pong. He and his band play a lot of ping pong on tour. Prince is apparently VERY good at ping pong. But of course he is. He's Prince.

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