The Night Prince Stopped the Rain

Posted on July 31, 2011

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"I can't hear you...."

I’ve been trying for the past 36 hours to sum up this gig on Twitter and Facebook. And I’m failing spectacularly.

The essence of cool, the little man, the artist formerly known as, the one and only Prince took to the stage in his white poncho to the sounds of cheers and ecstatic shouts of love and devotion. He kicked off with ‘Gold’, and reassured us all that the close to three hours of sound checking had indeed paid off. The opening bars of ‘Gold’ felt like a testimony that not only was everything right in the world but that everything was right there in the grounds of Malahide Castle. There was a sense of inevitability about it. I guess what played on most people’s minds was ‘finally!’

The Emperor of Pop was here and as he had promised during the week, things were going to get funky.

From there, he rushed headlong into ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ (which I had been hoping would be his opener) and proceeded to play non-stop for 45 minutes, shifting effortlessly from song to song the same way you might switch a phone from one hand to the other during a long conversation.

But nothing seemed long about this gig. At the end of the two and a half hour marathon, the crowd cheered and called for more. I had hoped someone might start a ‘F*ck the Curfew’ chant but no one rose to the occasion.

While he finished somewhat abruptly and before the curfew, it was hard to be disappointed. He’d entertained from start to finish with a medley of classics like ‘Raspberry Beret’, ‘1999’, ‘Cream’ and ‘Little Red Corvette’ to covers of ‘Make You Feel My Love’, ‘Play That Funky Music’ and ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’. Prince shouted out his love and respect to Sinead O’Connor before making the song that made her sound even better.

And then there was ‘Purple Rain’.

The most instantly recognisable of Prince’s songs, it came after the 45 minute long opening block and the beautiful rendition of ‘Make You Feel My Love’. When next years batch of X-Factor contestants decide they want to butcher this beautiful song, they should be made to sit down and watch the video of this performance because it was word perfect.

The rain had started sometime during the opening block of songs. To be honest I can’t remember when, I was feeling like Gene Kelly splashing about in puddles at that stage.

And then Prince played ‘Purple Rain’ in the rain. And god, was it good. It felt like the moment in The Shawshank Redemption when Andy has climbed out through the pipe of the prison, falls on his knees, arms outstretched and looks at the sky. It felt like redemption. From what? I don’t know. I guess from Prince’s end, it was his apology for making us wait so long.

There was something charged about the air and atmosphere during this one number. Singing along to the vocalising at the end of the song felt like the most therapeutic and amazing thing in the world.

And just as the song finished, just as the purple confetti rained down on us, the rain stopped. Just like that, as the song finished. You couldn’t have timed it better; it was almost as if it was on purpose.

In the end, you were left with a loss of words, a lack of words in fact because there weren’t enough words in the dictionary to sum up what you’d just experienced for the duration of the gig. It was like an outer body experience; it was like the world outside of the concert didn’t exist, all the worries and niggles and aches and pains just vanished for those two and a half hours. I have never been to a concert that has done that.

Prince has never shied away from explicit lyrics or sexual imagery so he would probably appreciate if I described his gig last night as “orgasmic”.

In his Sunday Independent review today Barry Egan wrote, “This was not just a greatest hits show. This was the greatest artist currently living show.” That sums it up probably better than I have done for the few hundred words I’ve scribed here.

In the end, after numerous Facebook and Twitter status updates, I think this one probably best sums up how I felt and continue to feel after the gig: “In addendum to previous Prince gushing…I fear no man will ever satisfy me again. As the man himself says, “Can’t nobody do you the way Prince do you.”

If last night is Prince’s way of ‘doing you’, he can do me any time he wants.

As the tour T-Shirt that I acquired said, “Some of us have religion, yoga, exercise & creative art 2 relieve life’s weight…But sometimes we need a little something more…”

Not just “a little something more”, Prince was something else.

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