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Manchester loves Prince and Prince loves Manchester – this was the overriding opinion after a 3-hour set by Prince & 3rd Eye Girl on Saturday night at the Manchester Academy.

Kicking off at 8pm, Minneapolis’ most famous export took to the Academy’s stage for a 3-hour show that ran rings around almost any other live performance I’ve seen (and I’ve seen Daft Punk). What made Saturday’s show so memorable was the crowd: they were passionate, attentive and ready to soak up every last drop of what Prince, and his all-female band 3rd Eye Girl, had to offer.

Prince had the 2600-strong crowd eating out of his palm of his hand after just a couple of songs, but not only did he have them under his spell he expertly used them as a fully committed choir to really add to each song’s impact. From renditions of ‘Play That Funky Music’ and ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’ to ‘Purple Rain’ and ‘Raspberry Beret’, the Manchester crowd played their part like no other.

“Do y’all know how many hits I got? We’re Gonna Be Here All Night”. 

Despite being 55, Prince strutted around the 30-foot stage like a small child high on sugar. His performance was energetic and flamboyant as he segued from shredding his guitar to playing piano solos for some of the more melancholic numbers. Backed by his all-female band 3rd Eye Girl, which consists of Donna Grantis, Hannah Ford and Ida Neilsen, the band were every bit as good as Prince – both in showmanship and musicality, and in some cases Donna Grantis even gave the Purple One a run for his money when it comes to the most outlandish rock riffs, whilst Hannah Ford showcased a masterclass in live drumming to keep the crowd on its toes for what seemed like hours.

Prince was on-stage for a staggering 3 hours, and despite the expensive ticket price, no-one I spoke to felt like they didn’t get their monies worth. I counted no less than 6 encores with each one seemingly topping the last. Each time the house lights were turn the crowd didn’t move a muscle in fear that they would miss yet another encore. It was a little too much to take for some diehard fans, though, who were helped out the venue by staff after collapsing from sheer amazement. Having spent a good ten years watching po-faced DJs twiddle knobs and fist pumping themselves towards a severe case of DJ’s elbow, it was refreshing change to see Prince and 3rd Eye Girl give a virtuoso performance that will likely go down in Manchester folk-law for many years to come.

HBF Rating 5/5

Andrew Rafter

Andrew Rafter is the editor and founder of Harder Blogger Faster.