Thanks to the wonders of Typepad allowing you time when posts are published, by the time you read this I will be on a train bound for London. I'm off to see Prince this weekend.
This little man is the Marmite of music, you love him and hate him. I happen to think Prince is brilliant.
Rewind back to the Brit Awards 1996. Prince walks off the stage to thunderous applause, after finishing a blistering set, a little smile on his face. He'd killed them again..after all these years, teh daft name change, the duff albums, he still had it in him to just blow them away.
It was exactly the same expression I've seen every time I've seen him live. On stage there is quite simply no one to touch him. From the moment he comes out to the final encore, he has you and he won't let you go until he's given you a good seeing to. And he plays guitar at least as well as anyone else out there.
On record of course, he's been a different proposition recently, mostly average, sometimes good, now and again with flashes of the old genius, which makes him even more frustrating.
Maybe someone can only be that brillaint for so long, like Bowie's run that started with Ziggy Stardust and ended with Scary Monsters. And mark my words, he was that good. He may have used a lot of infuences, but for a awhile there was nothing like Prince. He was a mass of contradictions; painfully shy off stage while charismatic enough to blow an audience away on it, deeply religious yet one of the perviest singers ever, neither black nor white, androgenous....these tensions peppered a string of albums that started with For You and ended with Lovesexy. Prince's music had a dirtiness, a danger that few others could touch. And the wild experimentation meant that his albums sounded like nothing else.
It's not for everyone, and for some it's hard to get past the image, but that's a real shame. He was breathtaking.
He was still really good until the horific name change saga, but less focused with some terrible experiments with rappers, and the music became too polished, safe even.
What's really scary is the songs most people won't have heard. Lots of people will mention Purple Rain, but Sign 'o' the Times sounded like it came from another planet. You can really here the claustophic urgency of a man working alone in a studio. And much of his best stuff wasn't released...songs like Crystal ball and Crucial. Incedible creativity that most will never hear.
It's a sad comment in the way he lost it that Bog George from the Black Album is funny comment on gangsta rap, yet 5 years later he was trying to copy the very thing he'd mocked.
But tomorrow night, it will be Prince live. And you just know that by the end of the night he will have that smirk again. He'll have blown us away yet again.