After weeks of rumours, Prince gave a tiny and lucky Melbourne crowd a stellar and extremely intimate performance at Bennett’s Lane Jazz Club tonight.
The show was actually kept a genuine secret with much of the audience having stuck around after an earlier gig in the venue. The only other hints were a tweet from DJ Rashida saying: “This just in .. Prince on stage @ bennetts lane jazz club <Melbourne 2nite! 200$ @ door *secret show* just starting .. <3” and a futile mailout from the club to their mailing list which didn’t hit inboxes until long after the show had begun. In the end the crowd couldn’t have numbered more than about 70 or 80. It was a special moment.
The singer, who has one final stadium show on his tour in Melbourne on Wednesday, took to the tiny stage at around 2am and performed until almost 4 playing a string of funk and pop classics including Sexy Dancer (from Prince), Love 2 The 9s (from The Love Symbol Album) and covers of Parliament/Funkadelic’s Tear The Roof Off The Sucker and Up For The Downstroke as well as Rihanna’s Rude Boy. Oh, and there was funk. Lots and lots and lots of funk. (Read the review of Prince’s first Melbourne show on May 14 here)
The lighting in the club is considerably more low-tech than the gadgety arena shows the purple one has been doing. At one point Prince’s minders could be heard mumbling to each other “How do we cut the lights?” before literally walking around to every light in the room switching them off manually until the only light that could be seen was coming from the office behind the bar, creating a very strange vibe, but what the hell? It’s not every day you get to dance whilst standing on top of a chair in pitch darkness while Prince and the NPG are playing right in front of you.
As is often the case with these ultra-late-night club shows, Prince is not the main focus. Long time NPG vocalist Shelby J took centre stage for a while and the crowd was even treated to some spectacular dance moves from The Twinz.
“I came off stage and heard about the gig. The next thing I know Prince is playing through my amp,” one band member who had played an earlier gig at the venue said as he lowered his now cherished amp into the boot of his car after the show. Others were calling friends at 4am just to express their excitement as to what they had just seen, and others were just standing there, speechless and letting it all sink in.
The tour so far has included one club show in Sydney and two in Brisbane. Both Sydney and Brisbane had ticketed club shows, while a second unannounced Brisbane show took place on Saturday. At this point the artist formerly known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince has managed to keep punters (and journalists) on their toes. Will there be another club show in Melbourne? We’ll just have to wait and see.
Prince had performed at Bennett’s Lane during his last visit to Australia in 2003, as well as The Metro (now The Palace) and a DJ set at the Prince of Wales.
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