Prince performs at Manchester Academy but cancels planned second appearance

Fans queuing for second show were allowed in for the encore

Prince played a two-and-a-half-hour set at Manchester’s Academy last night (February 21) – although a smattering of fans took to Twitter afterwards to complain when a second surprise performance was cancelled within hours of being announced.

Unlike the London dates of his Hit And Run tour, tickets for the gig were sold online in advance, and predictably disappeared within seconds. The remainder were made available on the door when it opened at 7.30pm – with diehard fans queuing from 10pm the day before to get in.

At 8.40, 3RDEYEGIRL – comprising drummer Hannah Ford Welton, bassist Ida Nielson and guitarist Donna Grantis – arrived onstage and, as per previous performances, urged the baying crowd not to take photos. “The show’s going to be so much better if you interact with us,” insisted Welton. “Don’t cover your face – we want to be able to communicate with you.”

When the purple one himself appeared – with glitter specks in his hair and clad in a frayed, tassled gilet – he seemed to relish the relatively intimate surroundings of the 2,500 capacity venue, hauling some fans onstage to dance with him, and leading them in some moves that resembled a workout video. It set the playful tone for the evening that saw him marshal sing-a-longs and informing the city: “Manchester, it feels like we’re on a first date”.

Opening with ‘Funk N Roll’, the setlist was laden with hits such as ‘Purple Rain’, ‘U Got The Look’, ‘Raspberry Beret’ and ‘When Doves Cry’. Covers included ‘Crimson And Clover’, originally by Tommy James & The Shondells, ‘Train In Vain’ by The Clash, and Wild Cherry’s ‘Play That Funky Music’, while forthcoming album ‘Plectrum Electrum’ was represented by a number of songs including of ‘Fixurlifeup’.

Although Prince and his new band were on incendiary form, the night did not pass without a sliver of controversy. When the show began, the Academy announced a second gig, with Prince’s manager, Kiran Sharma, also tweeting “HELLO Manchester!!! Guess what…??? You can now start a que for the SECOND SHOW 2NITE!!! :),’, which generated a further queue outside the venue. However, the performance did not happen, and the 150 fans that turned up were let in to see an encore – that began with ‘Let’s Go Crazy’ (which Prince dedicated to the “new people coming in”) and culminated with ‘Bambi’ – for £35 instead of £70.

Half an hour after the gig ended at 11.05pm and the houselights had come up, there were still chants of “We want Prince”, before security eventually escorted people out at 11.40pm. It has since been agreed that all customers who purchased one of those 150 tickets would be able to watch his second date at the city – due tonight (February 22) – for free. Speaking onstage about the performance ahead tonight, Prince teased that there will be “surprises in store”.

Prince played:
‘She’s Always In My Hair’
‘I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man’
‘Plectrum Electrum’
‘Forever In My Life’
‘A Love Bizarre’
‘When Doves Cry’
‘Sign O’ The Times’
‘Hot Thing’
‘I Would Die 4 U’
‘Purple Rain’
‘Let’s Go Crazy’
‘U Got The Look’
‘Play That Funky Music’
‘The Love We Make’
‘Take Me With U’
‘Raspberry Beret’
‘Train In Vain’
‘Crimson & Clover’