Prince: Aftershow Jam
The Ivy Ballroom, Sydney CBD, 2am, May 13
His second gig on Saturday night (in fact Sunday morning) was never going to be a standard Prince concert, given tickets to get up-close and personal with him at the Ivy cost the same ($100, which we paid this time) as the cheap seats at the arena shows. Still, it took a while to understand why it was worth staying from about 2am, when his band the NPG finally started playing, without him, until nearly 4am.
Prince didn’t even do much when he did show up late in the first hour, perhaps because of the muted audience response during DJ Rashida’s preceding set to hardly mainstream but certainly not obscure tunes of his such as DMSR, Sexy Dancer and his Sheila E duet A Love Bizarre. First he briefly cameoed alongside his keyboardist. Then he took his bassist’s instrument off her to unleash some tasty licks of his own. The scorching riff from America got some of us excited but he was soon gone again.
Metro's all time favourite artist ... Prince. Photo: Viki Lascaris
He spent the next little while trying to get the crowd going with exhortations from off the stage, even singing Partyman from there, before finally joining his uniformly tight, tremendous band properly. He coolly picked up a guitar, started playing as only Prince can but left the vocals to his backing singers.
The best of the NPG singers invited Seal to join her on a duet of India.Arie’s heavily soulful Brown Skin before Public Enemy’s Flavor Flav joined the band, now all but on furiously funky fire with Prince again on bass, to rap 911 Is a Joke.
As happened too often during Prince’s arena show, proceedings lost momentum after this, so much so that Seal apparently thought it would be a good idea for him to return to sing a few bars from Alphabet Street and Sign ‘O’ The Times while the band brought things down to a simmer. The Voice judge was wrong.
Indeed, as if to prove it, Prince finally deigned to let us see him sing. Continuing to play guitar with the kind of passion you could actually hear, he leaned across to his backing singer’s mic and started singing a devastating, bluesy take on I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man that was worth the price of the ticket alone.
A final euphoric blast through vintage B-side She’s Always in My Hair soon after confirmed why these aftershow jams have become the stuff of legend.