The little purple one returned to the O2 for his last set of shows at the venue and I was lucky enough to be there. Its my first Prince show since seeing him back in the eighties (when Jacko was disappointing 'em all at Wembley Stadium, I was enthralled by the little man at the Arena) and I have to admit I was quite excited – despite the patchy reviews. I certainly wasn’t disappointed.
From the opening medley, that lasted for some 25mins – who can manage that !! - it was clear that this is a guy who just lives for the performance. Some call him arrogant, self obsessed or just down right strange but no-one can deny this mans talent. Whether he was dancing, singing, soloing on his symbol shaped guitar or just sat paying solo at the piano you couldn't’t take your eyes off him. His pre gig video had his bands saying that he could and does play all their instruments and you get the idea that he probably can play them as well or better than any of them. He is the ultimate showman and works an audience with consummate ease. Let’s go crazy sets a blistering pace, Little red corvette is delivered as a piano solo and Purple Rain takes the roof off. Prince tells us the “dis is mahhhh house” and frankly we believed him.
It all got me thinking, particularly in the light of the recent “controversy” about giving away his album in the Mail on Sunday, about the measure of talent and value. Some people had complained about the length of the Prince set. He played with no support and the show itself was well under two hours – less if you deduct the encore gaps. However this misses the point. Seeing Prince live is a rare event and frankly I'd rather see 100mins of pure genius than 3 hours of padded out dross. JP Rangaswami posts on the subject of the because effect in this context and rightly observers that ".... the point is that Prince understands how he makes money, what’s scarce and what’s abundant about it. Digital downloads are abundant. Concert appearances are scarce. He makes money because of his CDs and not with them". This is spot on. Seeing Prince is a rare event, one that I was fortunate to be at and one that I hugely enjoyed.
I'm off to see The Police in a few weeks - a gig that will no doubt further underscore my views on abundance, scarcity, talent .... and probably the because effect.