Category Archives: Music

Aaliyah: Came to give love

 Find fun in everything you do.”
Aaliyah, MTV Diary 2001

Love to Aaliyah's family and friends, and those who passed on with her:  Hairstylist Eric Forman, makeup artist Christopher Maldonado, bodyguard Scott Gallin, Virgin Records executive Douglas Kratz, hairstylist Anthony Dodd, Blackground staff Gina Smith, Keith Wallace  and pilot Luis Morales III
Love to Aaliyah’s family and friends, and those who passed on with her: Hairstylist Eric Forman, makeup artist Christopher Maldonado, bodyguard Scott Gallin, Virgin Records executive Douglas Kratz, hairstylist Anthony Dodd, Blackground staff Gina Smith, Keith Wallace and pilot Luis Morales III

Aaliyah,

the talented songstress with the fluttery falsetto was born in Brooklyn, New York  and throughout her career; reporters, fans and her contemporaries  would comment on her down-to-earth nature and sweetness.

Aaliyah Star Search
Aaliyah (11) competed on Star Search singing “My Funny Valentine,” lost, and cried. Photo: Reuters

She broke-out onto the mainstream music scene in 1994 aged just 15 with the edgy single “Back & Forth”, from her debut LP Age Ain’t Nothing But A Number. Aaliyah’s voice slinking along over tough hip hop beats on the album created a young and fresh sound.

Her version of the Isley Brothers’ song “At Your Best (You Are Love)”, is preceded with a stirring A Capella intro. Her crystal cut delivery makes her performance all the more innocent and vulnerable. It’s a defining moment – much like when little Michael Jackson donned a purple hat and belted out the first words of “Who’s Loving You” on the Ed Sullivan show – you stop and listen because it’s so captivating.

“She made that hip hop look sexy for women wearing men’s clothes. It created a whole new look. It was sexy but classic.” Andy Hilfiger for Tommy Jeans, in 1996

Andy Hilfiger cast Aaliyah to sport men’s boxers under baggy jeans with a tight tube top in a 1996 Tommy Jeans ad campaign also featuring Mark Ronson and Kidada Jones. Photo: Hilfiger
Andy Hilfiger cast Aaliyah to sport men’s boxers under baggy jeans in a 1996 Tommy Jeans ad campaign also featuring Mark Ronson and Kidada Jones. Photo: Hilfiger
Aaliyah and friend/producer Missy Elliott would speak in interviews on how they challenged each other on who would wear a dress first. Aaliyah lost the bet. Photo: Showtime Says
Aaliyah and friend/producer Missy Elliott would speak in interviews on how they challenged each other on who would wear a dress first. Aaliyah lost the bet. Photo: Showtime Says

Stepping into the limelight as an elegant hip-hop tomboy – she was known for her baggy leather pants and sunglasses – she naturally blossomed into a graceful siren by the time her self-titled third album was released in 2001 .   Her producer and friend Missy Elliott told a sweet story to Vibe Magazine:

“We had a bet as to who was going to wear a dress first, cause neither one of us used to wear dresses. One day, I saw he r in a dress, and I was like, ‘wait a minute, this girl owes me some money’.”

One in a Million was released in 1996 and Aaliyah turned from newcomer to trendsetter, discovering a cutting-edge sound by working with Missy Elliott and Timbaland on a majority of the tracks. The lead single, “If Your Girl Only Knew”, has an unusual grinding-twang pulse beat and Aaliyah’s harmonies seem to control the chords.

Aaliyah arranged the vocals on “Got To Give it Up”. Slick Rick references Aaliyah’s cover of the Isleys in his rap on the Marvin Gaye re-working: One in a Million was ranked number 90 on Rolling Stone's 100 greatest albums of the 90s list.
Aaliyah arranged the vocals on the Marvin Gaye re-working of “Got To Give it Up” featuring Slick Rick. The album ranked at number 90 on Rolling Stone’s 100 greatest albums of the 90s list. Photo: Google Screen Capture

Paul Hunter also credits Aaliyah for consciously  kickstarting his career when she picked him to direct “Got to Give It Up” and the massive “One in a Million” videos. “One in a Million” would define a new sound in soul music. The album solidified Aaliyah’s personal sense of style and self and set her apart for being a visionary.

“There’s a thing that you see when somebody walks out on the stage, I call it the fire. They got that inner fire, which has nothing to do with the schooling, nothing to do with the teacher, nothing to do with the parents. There is a desire in that person to please the audience. You see enough of it to recognize it. And that’s what I saw with Aaliyah.”
Ed McMahonStar Search host

After six hits on the album, she spent the next years training in acting. Although she was missed on the music scene, she did appear on soundtracks during her hiatus. In 1997 she released “Journey To The Past” for Anastasia, which gained her an Academy Award nomination and in 1998,  she released “Are You That Somebody”,  for Dr DooLittle.

Timbaland called Aaliyah his muse; he has said that she encouraged him to go leftfield in his production. After her passing, he released an album, which featured his last recording which featured Aaliyah and Static.  On "I Am Music", Aaliyah's voice is delectable, her ad-libs are unmistakeable and the lyrics she sings are poignant. It's a heartfelt reminder of Aaliyah's impact on music and on people's lives.
Timbaland called Aaliyah his muse; he has said that she encouraged him to go leftfield in his production. After her passing, he released an album, which featured his last recording which featured Aaliyah and Static. On “I Am Music”, Aaliyah’s voice is delectable, her ad-libs are unmistakeable and the lyrics she sings are poignant. It’s a heartfelt reminder of Aaliyah’s impact on music and on people’s lives.

The synth-funk track, which had Timbaland beatboxing and the sample of a baby laughing (from Perrey and Kingsley’s “Countdown at 6”) earned Aaliyah a Grammy nomination for Best R&B Female Vocal Performance and was a world wide smash.

“I am truly blessed to wake up every morning and do something that I love. There’s nothing better than that. You’ve gotta love what you do, to wanna do it everyday.  Sometimes I’m taken aback and I’m just like…I  can’t believe it. I can definitely say  I’m a truly happy young person. There’s so much more I wanna do in my career and I’m gonna work hard to do and to achieve.” Aaliyah, MTV Diary 2001

The back cover for Aaliyah's final album shows off her dove tattoo which was a tribute to her late grandmother
The back cover for Aaliyah’s final album shows off her dove tattoo which was a tribute to her late grandmother

In 2000 her first starring role  saw Aaliyah mix hip hop and kung fu with Jet Li in Romeo Must Die. It was a box office success in 2000, and Aaliyah had four superb tracks on the excellent original soundtrack which sold over a million copies. The role once again was edgy, injecting interracial relationship battles into the  Romeo and Juliet story.

Aaliyah also landed the huge role of playing the 6,000-year-old Egyptian vampire Akasha in Queen of the Damned. Her acting coach, Joanne Baron, would tell how hard Aaliyah worked to gain it:

“Director Michael Rymer had asked her to do a piece from a play called Salomé. She came in on her knees like a cat, growling, ‘I’m the woman that you left,’ and she did this with such brilliant physicality and vocality. She crawled round on the floor for two hours, moving about the room in unbelievable fluidity, acting this thing to perfection.  She put her heart, her time, her love and her life into it. She just ripped it out.”

Based in Australia for the role, Aaliyah would film during the day and work on her album in the evenings. She completed her scenes and released her eponymous album Aaliyah in 2001, she was 22.

Aaliyah: We Need a Resolution. Directed by Paul Hunter
Aaliyah: We Need a Resolution. Directed by Paul Hunter

In interviews she revealed she self-titled the album because lyrically, it was her most personal album to date. She worked again with the late singer/rapper Static, from the group Playa, who wrote “Are You that Somebody” because she credited him as writing lyrics which she related to.

The lead single “We Need A Resolution”, about an argument, is very dark and futuristic sounding. The video is its equal; Aaliyah bellydances with a snake, swings in a vortex and dances over a disgruntled beat with such charisma it makes your eyes dance. The song’s Middle-Eastern feeling gave insight into the fusion of influences that would contribute to the album.

Aaliyah: More Than A Woman
Aaliyah: More Than A Woman

Aaliyah boldly explores the highs and lows of love on the album with poise and interesting technique over songs which fuse hiphop and soul with electronica, dub and metal, to name a few genres. Her vocal performances range from falsetto, staccato and at times soprano and her emotions shift from sexy and satisfied to complete fury. Like Diana Ross she conveys a story in each song and she tells it with conviction and passion – whether she’s singing about her career, being the other woman or the joys of sex.

Ernest Hardy of Rolling Stone Magazine compared the album’s musical experimentation to OutKast’s Stankonia and Sade’s Lovers Rock.

Christopher John Farley of Time Magazine, who met Aaliyah a few times, heralded her a gentle, humble person. He was impressed how her young voice had matured on the album. He said: “Her gentle voice now seems like something elemental, a kindly wind blowing through the branches of a big tree”.

“Rock The Boat”, directed by Hype Williams, was Aaliyah’s final video-shoot; it was filmed back to back with “More Than a Woman”, directed by Dave Meyers.

By accounts of those on the video shoot for “Rock The Boat” it was a happy time for Aaliyah. She had expressed that she had beaten her fear of being underwater, filming a gorgeous scene wearing a long gown which is seen in the music clip. She thanked everyone on the shoot when it wrapped up and spoke to a young fan for 15 minutes on the way to the airport.

Rock The Boat: Aaliyah under water. Photo: Fanpop
Rock The Boat: Aaliyah beating her fear of being under water. Photo: Fanpop
Aaliyah’s “Came To Give Love (Outro)” on One In A Million is a beautiful reminder anyday that Aaliyah’s life was a fulfilled one. Listen to it here:

“Everything is worth it, the hard work, the times your tired, the times when you’re a bit sad. In the end it’s all worth it, because it really makes me happy, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I’ve got good friends, I’ve got beautiful family, and  I’ve got a career. I am truly blessed and I thank God for his blessings every single chance I get.”Aaliyah, MTV Diary 2001

 

Love to Aaliyah’s family and friends, and those who passed on with her:  Hairstylist Eric Forman, makeup artist Christopher Maldonado, bodyguard Scott Gallin, Virgin Records executive Douglas Kratz, hairstylist Anthony Dodd, Blackground staff Gina Smith, Keith Wallace  and pilot Luis Morales III

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Damon Albarn: The Heavy Seas of modern technology

Artwork for Heavy Seas of Love: Palacio Salvo, Montevideo, Uruguay
Artwork for Heavy Seas of Love: Palacio Salvo, Montevideo, Uruguay

Damon Albarn has been building up the release of his debut solo album Everyday Robots with a series of heavy-hearted song clips.

The piano led song ‘Heavy Seas Of Love’  which features Brian Eno on guest vocals is the latest. The music box melody contrasts with melancholy vocals and overall is a mellow mid-tempo treat.

Other songs include the title track and ‘Lonely Press Play’.

The information accompanying the video for ‘Lonely Press Play’ explains it was “shot by Damon on a tablet and you’ll see scenes from Tokyo, London, Dallas, Utah, Colchester, North Korea, Iceland and Devon.” Albarn has always embraced  modern technology with music.  With Gorillaz, the visuals were the source of a new live experience.

From what we’ve seen so far from Albarn’s Youtube clips, for his solo project, there seems to be  sadness in the social commentary.

The lyrics, visuals and vocals all seem to be grieving for a population that  have become disconnected from real life when ironically, we are living in an era where the world is within our touchscreen fingertips.

For the ‘Everyday Robots’ video, Albarn sings  “We are everyday robots on our phones” as we watch the process of a human face forming in a digital animation. It’s a thought-provoking concept that reminds us to think what it is, to be human.

Damon Albarn: Everyday Robots is set for release on April 28
Damon Albarn: Everyday Robots is set for release on April 28

The single ‘Heavy Seas of Love’ will be available for download from April 27. The album Everyday Robots follows the next day on April 28.

Damon Albarn is set to perform with his current band, The Heavy Seas, in London before heading to New York to headline the Latitude Festival.

Upcoming gigs are as follows:

April

30 – London Rivoli Ballroom

May

1 – London Queen Mary University Great Hall

July

19 – Latitude festival – New York

Kate Bush covers: What if she were to return the favour on her tour?

Kate Bush’s Before the Dawn concert tickets finally go on sale Friday at 9.30 am.

Many artists have covered Kate Bush classics. Here are some suggestions in case she would ever consider returning the favour:

Kate Bush: This Woman's WorkMaxwell sang the 1990 Kate Bush song ‘This Woman’s Work’ for his MTV Unplugged concert in 1997 and recorded it for his 2001 album Now.

Kate Bush cover suggestion: Maxwell’s ‘Whenever Wherever Whatever’ (1997)

Kate Bush The Man With The Child In His EyesNatalie Cole covered the 1978 Kate Bush song ‘The Man With The Child In His Eyes’ for her 2006 album Leavin’.

Kate Bush cover suggestion:  Natalie Cole’s ‘I’m Catching Hell’ (1978)

Kate Bush: Suspended In GaffaRa Ra Riot covered the 1982 Kate Bush song ‘Suspended in Gaffa’ on their 2008 album The Rhumb Line.

Kate Bush cover suggestion: Ra Ra Riot’s ‘The Orchard’ (2010)

Kate Bush Hounds of LoveThe Futureheads covered the 1985 Kate Bush song ‘Hounds of Love’ for their self-titled album in 2004.

Kate Bush cover suggestion: The Futurehead’s ‘Thursday’ (2012)

Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush Don't Give UpHerbie Hankcock, with John Legend and Pink, covered the Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush Duet ‘Don’t Give Up’ for Hancock’s 2010 album The Imagine Project.

Kate Bush (live band) cover suggestion: Instrumental interlude Herbie Hancock’s ‘You’ll Know When You Get There’ (1971)

Kate Bush’s Before the Dawn dates are as follows:

August

26 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

27- London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

29 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

30 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

September

2 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

3 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

5 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

6 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

9 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

10 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

12 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

13 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

16 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

17 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

19  – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

October

1 – London’s Eventim Apollo, Hammersmith

 

Lapiro De Mbanga: Cameroon’s Voice of the Voiceless leaves a legacy of revolution that lives on

Lapiro De Mbanga, one of West Africa’s biggest names in music who fought against political corruption in Cameroon, died of cancer this month after living in exile in America the past two

In a country with one of the lowest working wages for its people; where homosexuality is illegal and a government which censors musicians and journalists for questioning its dictatorship rule, where does Cameroon’s future lie?

Lapiro De Mbanga: Rebel with a cause
Lapiro De Mbanga: Rebel with a cause

Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour, who calls for peace in his latest song One Africa, said: “A song can get the message out there quicker than a political speech.” But it is the People’s Democratic Movement Party and Cameroon’s President since 1982, Paul Biya, who has censored musicians, jailed them and according to De Mbanga “tried to kill me twice” for messages in songs.

De Mbanga, who sang and rapped in pidgin – a mixture of English, French and local languages, has over 30 years of hits, which were regularly censored for their political themes. He gained millions of fans from a population frustrated and disenfranchised in their country.

It was 2008’s track Constitution Constipée (Constipated Constitution) that upset the powerful political party most. It criticised President Biya’s proposed constitutional amendment which would remove Cameroon’s two-term presidential limit, to allow Biya to stand for re-election.

Despite being banned by TV and radio, the song became an inspirational anthem among the student demographic who held protests pushing for reform. De Mbanga was blamed for his music influencing riots in which 40 people were killed and after an unfair trial he was jailed for three years.

Ndinga Man (Guitar man) / Voice of the Voiceless / Bard of Cameroon’s working class

The Danish-based NGO Freemuse (Freedom of Musical Expression) led an international campaign for De Mbanga’s release. In partnership with human rights activist Deeyah Khan and Grappa records, Freemuse released the album Listen to the Banned (2010) full of censored artists which featured Constitution Constipée. In an interview De Mbanga said: “If Freemuse hadn’t publicised my case worldwide, I’d have been dead long ago”.

Following his release from jail in 2011 De Mbanga produced more anti-Biya songs and in 2012 he received political asylum in the US.

A book De Mbanga began working on last year, The Planned Death of a Freedom Fighter, is set for release this year. Also due in 2014 is a film about the country’s censorship laws from exiled Cameroonian radio journalist Issa Nyaphaga. De Mbanga’s fight to expose corruption and speak up for the rights of the Cameroonian people lives on.

 

Beyoncé: Feminism through #Yoncisms

From Janet (1993) to Beyoncé (2013), the media response to female sexuality is horror.Beyoncé: Feminism through Yoncisms 

While the #bebossyandproud hashtag takes over #banbossy – Mrs. Carter has been the tour that Beyoncé, the boss, has been leading since 2013.

Beyoncé: The boss
Beyoncé: The boss

Her fifth release, a self-entitled visual album with 17 videos, swept the entertainment world when it was released unannounced in December.  Selling a record-breaking 828,773  copies in just three days, Beyoncé completely smashed the previous title holder for first-week sales on iTunes, Justin Timberlake, who sold a measly 580,000  in comparison for 20/20 Experience in March.

It became obvious that Beyoncé is the most forceful presence in pop music.  She always pays homage to her heroes and has said that the visual album was inspired by her memories of watching  Michael Jackson’s Thriller video premiere in 1983. 

She said: “I miss that immersive experience. Now people only listen to a few seconds of a song on their iPods and they don’t really invest in the whole experience”.

It was  2009’s super anthem Single Ladies (Put A Ring On It) that elevated Beyoncé to a superstar stratosphere. Toddlers did the Single Ladies dance and grandparents learned Beyoncé ‘s name. It also means that she has since been scrutinised more than ever for her image, her lyrics and her feminist credentials.

“I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman and I love being a woman.” – Beyoncé, British Vogue (May 2013)

But the feminism debate has meant that some other interesting themes on this album have been overlooked:

Beyonce’s breakthroughs  – losses and wins

#iwokeuplikethis

The album begins with  Beyoncé’s strive for perfection in Pretty Hurts and later Rocket and Flawless demonstrate  her becoming comfortable with who she is on the outside and in. A clip of her former group Girls Tyme losing a Star Search  competition  on TV in 1992 is sampled around Flawless to signify her failures and her hard work to succeed.

The penultimate track Heaven is also about loss, the video is based on one of her mother’s best friend’s passing.  The album is concluded with the gorgeous ballad Blue  about how Blue Ivy Carter – who features on the track – has changed Beyoncé’s life.

Aside from sexuality, the album affirms Beyoncé’s pride of Creole roots and of course her hometown Houston, Texas. Visual symbols of fire and trophies seem to be  key references in the videos which tie in with themes of failure, success and self acceptance in the music.

Beyoncé the Business Woman 

Surfboard/Watermelon

The new approach to this album dropping quietly was a risk. Since becoming a mother in 2012, Beyoncé has directed her  own documentary; performed at the Superbowl, sung for President Obama’s second inauguration and starred in Pepsi ads. The only hint of a new album was the premiere of Bow Down on Beyoncé’s website in July to announce the first leg of the Mrs. Carter Show tour.

With the album’s release, Beyoncé not only showed she was on the pulse with music but in tune with social media and brought out her own brand of Yoncisms.

The album is full of hashtag friendly buzz words. These are Yoncisms ready to be merchandised. Even Madonna has been pictured wearing one of the slogans.

Yoncism: a word used to describe your feelings like Beyoncé would describe hers.

#whatwouldbeyoncedo

beyonce merchandise
Bey Good: Merchandise

Yoncé is as good a businesswoman as she is a performer! Like the album, the Mrs. Carter Show is a visual feast and a hard-kicking , female dominating concert.

The Show

Since the album’s release, new songs have been added to the Mrs. Carter Show set-list.  The build-up begins with huge visual screens that light up and run a tour promo of Beyoncé  entering a court dressed in full Marie Antoinette regalia to a drum procession. A female band forms, marching onto the stage and finally the actual Beyoncé rises before the live audience to adulation. Her hand is firmly on her hip and her gaze is defiant to everyone.  She channels a superhero quality, dressed in her white bodice and thigh high boots as her blond locks flow magnificently in the wind. 

Beyoncé:  She has the (super)power

She could be anywhere from the UK to Japan –  she raises her fist as she launches into her anthem “Run the World (Girls)” and she rules over the only two men in the show – Les Twins the dancers.

While the lyrics on the album have been dissected to debate Beyoncé’s role model status and her previous apprehension at being labelled a feminist; the Mrs. Carter Show makes it clear what her beliefs are.  “We Should All Be Feminists“,  the TedxEuston talk from  Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie which Beyoncé samples for Flawless is blasted on stage and the lyrics flash bold on the screens.

“Feminist: a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, TEDxEuston (April 2013)

Popstars like Beyoncé advocating control and independence  tend to face backlash when they express their sexual and relationship desires as a woman.  Janet Jackson went from Let’s Wait Awhile  to Anytime Anyplace to much of the same appalled, up-in-arms, shock-horror response by the media.

It’s interesting how despite a 20 year gap between Janet (1993) and Beyoncé (2013), the media response to females enjoying their sexuality – especially giving/expecting oral sex can result in a response of horror.

We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are.” – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, TEDxEuston (April 2013)

Beyoncé, much like Jackson created a name for herself associated with anthems for female empowerment and has now grown up to include singing about the joys of sex. While their journeys may be different it points to there being a very human connection between the struggles for womanhood, independence, love and desire. They are both good role models for singing about a woman’s worth and  for singing about sex.

They both bring empowerment to people no matter the gender or background.

Beyonce’s causes include CUFA (aids the education and development of children in Brazilian ghettoes); the Kolacho School of Hip Hop (removes gang members and rehabilitates them  through music and dance skills); Life Standard (supports children in Mexican orphanages)  and that’s just a fraction.

She donated her salary from Cadillac Records to  programmes for the Phoenix House, a drug and alcohol treatment centre after she visited them for research.

Find out more about her causes:

Beyonce Bey Good Chime for Change
Beyoncé: Bey Good

“Sisterhood means everything to me. All the charities I’m involved with are special, but I find any organization that focuses on women and children really motivating.” Beyonce, Self Magazine (August 2010)

Music review: @3RDEYEGIRL and Prince bring Funk n’ Roll to Manchester

It’s been many hours and nearly one full day…

since Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL left the audience from their second night in Manchester dripping in an adrenaline of black sweat and a glow of funk and roll. 

Funk n' Roll - Prince jamming on stage with 3RDEYEGIRL. Photo taken from Manchester Evening News
Funk n’ Roll – Prince jamming on stage with 3RDEYEGIRL. Photo taken from Manchester Evening News

This was the second night in a row the band played Manchester Academy.

3RDEYEGIRL, made up of Donna (guitar), Hannah (drums) and Ida (bass) came out at 8PM to an already hype crowd – there’s a certain energy when you know Prince Rogers Nelson is behind a curtain.

Then the rock began to rumble, and that instantly recognisable voice began singing as 3RDEYEGIRL got into the groove. Every neck craned to see Prince’s entrance as he walked cooly centre-stage. The night was young.

Prince could feel the love. The crowd was definitely giving it back to him singing every song with him; cheering as he relayed that love on to the fantastic band. Everyone cheered as 3RDEYEGIRL tore the roof off, this was the ultimate jam session. My eyes were back and forth trying to absorb the ethereal atmosphere of watching Prince sit and play as the band rocked high to the heavens to classics and new songs alike ranging from She’s Always in my Hair to Something In the Water. I’ll never forget him incorporating “Man – CHESTER” into his many songs consistently thanking the fans.

The heat in the crowd continued to rise. Although quite far back, this was an intimate venue and when Prince looked into the audience I felt his gaze reach my eye and touch my soul. When he told the crowd to sway side-to-side I was compelled to follow his beat. At points he coyly pointed at fans and told them to put their technology down and clap.

It was clear that Prince is built on a foundation of rhythm. It oozes out of him so naturally.

When the band said their first goodnight and left the stage before 10PM, they’d been playing around an hour and a half. I’d heard the legendary stories of Prince playing hours over UK curfews so I knew he’d come back for an encore. What I didn’t expect is for him to come back for 6-8 encores – I lost count.

There were points of the show I couldn’t see the band or Prince, but hearing him sit and perform The Beautiful Ones was an experience to cherish even if the image I see of him  is just his face, far away on stage, an image  encapsulated in between a sea of swaying arms. I could see his shadow above my head as I looked to the ceiling.

It was an incredible set list. As he came out for one of the many encores he warned us that with the amount of hits he has, we could be here all night. The crowd were up for that! 

It is a night imprinted in my soul, the energy rocked me to the core and the love and respect Prince showed the fans is evident in them all, old and new.

Prince fans have shown their true purple colours via the Prince Army on twitter. I have watched them all rally together and support each other to get to venues, swap tickets and beat the ticket touts over social media.  

He rewarded this dedication and came out to every encore request. He brought up on stage those who had queued for hours in the Manchester cold, rain and hail.

Seeing his hard-core fans jamming on stage with their hero  is such a highlight – and Prince fans can dance – especially the guy with a beard, who Prince joked looked like Mumford and Sons.

Over 3 hours of pure energy, a term Prince kept repeating – this was Funk n Roll. 3RDEYEGIRL and Prince, they rocked us, they funked us, they brought the house down.

 

Prince & 3RDEYEGIRL: Five reasons why the Hit & Run Tour is so awesome

Prince

5) Ticket touts, have been left out in the cold by Prince’s marketing strategy

Slick Prince, slick

This has been a mini-triumph for real music fans.  Seatwave have had to refund over-inflated tickets they bought in bulk for the Manchester shows (Friday 21 February Saturday 22 February). As a result of this, Manchester Academy were able to offer a limited number of tickets  on the door.

4) Avoiding the middlemen

That’s a no from Prince

Years before Beyoncé declared “I don’t trust these record labels I’m tourin'” from her surprise visual album;  Prince  was releasing free and independent music. He is renowned for cutting out the middleman and the Hit and Run tour is just another part of his style.  

The anxiousness at getting into such small venues is rewarded for fans: When only 150 people showed up for a last-minute announced second gig on the Friday in Manchester – they were treated to his encore rather than a second show – four encores  by the way. The mis-communication left the encore arrivals feeling out of pocket  but they were guaranteed free entry into Saturday night’s gig.

3) No smartphones

Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL
Prince prefers analogue

This one can cause a mixed reaction. Prince has always fought for the copyright of his work and while everybody wants a keepsake of their concert experience – some people forget to live in the moment and can end up watching a full show through their smartphone lens.

2) Lianne La Havas

Her name is Lianne La Havas

Obviously, over the last 30 years, people who have grown up loving Prince’s music have gone on to become musicians themselves. The icon has always recognised this and reached out despite being an enigma. British performers he has invited to perform with him include Beverley Knight, Mica Paris and Amy Winehouse. Prince discusses “real music” in an upcoming edition of MOJO magazine and he questions why people like La Havas are not having hits.

Prince’s only UK interview

He also held his press conference for the tour with 3RDEYEGIRL in La Havas’ living room.

1) Funk N Roll

Prince and 3RDEYEGIRL

Prince’s latest group 3RDEYEGIRL are made up of guitarist Donna Grantis, drummer Hannah Ford and bassist Ida Nielsen and boy do they rock! This is real music played by talented musicians who can keep up with Prince. The PRETZELBODYLOGIC era is a larger-than-life experience of rock and funk where the band and Prince all perform their chops off!

Music is available to buy from 3RDEYEGIRL’s website.

Applause