Prince plays ’80s-heavy set at SXSW closing party

Artist performs 'Purple Rain', '1999' and 'Housequake' at Austin finale

Prince performed at the SXSW closing party in Austin, Texas, last night.

Backed by a 21-piece band, he rolled through hits including ‘Purple Rain’, from the 1984 album of the same name, 1982’s ‘1999’ and ‘Housequake’, as well as a number of covers including Michael Jackson‘s ‘Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough’, Janet Jackson‘s ‘What Have You Done For Me Lately?’ and Curtis Mayfield‘s ‘We’re A Winner’.

As well as the hits, there were also five costume changes, switching from smart blue suit, complete with diamante cane, and ending up wearing a leather vest and a stuffed animal hat, the same eccentric attire as his nine-piece brass section. Much of the set, which lasted almost three hours, looked to the 1980s, with ‘U Got The Look’, ‘Cool’, ‘Jungle Love’, and ‘The Bird’ all played at the Samsung-sponsored event.

The Purple One was in chatty mood, too, telling the 1,300-strong crowd at La Zona Rosa: “I love being a musician. I feel like a servant… a servant to you” and then asking one fan to turn stop filming. “Turn off your phone, baby,” he said. Perhaps she wasn’t using a phone made by the sponsor?

“Goodnight, Austin. Don’t make me hurt you. Do you know how many hits I have?” he added before leaving the stage for the first time. He and his band the New Power Generation eventually played six encores, lasting longer than the main body of the set. Rapper Talib Kweli was in attendance, with Wire actors Michael K Williams and Snoop, as were Paloma Faith and The Roots Questlove.

Support came from A Tribe Called Quest, who will be playing their first UK show in 20 years at the Wireless Festival in London’s Olympic Park on July 14. That day of the three-day festival will be headlined by Jay-Z and Justin Timberlake. Nas, A$AP Rocky and Rizzle Kicks will also be on the bill.

Read Lucy Jones’ review of the Prince at SXSW gig here