I guess I should start by explaining to my friends how I ended up seeing Prince 2 nights in a row when a couple of days ago I was bitching that I couldnt get a ticket…
Well I forgot about this wierd Manchester gig thing (or maybe I thought Prince was immune). I’m refering to the fact that gigs that everyone assumes are going to be rammed never are. I toyed with the idea of camping outside the venue to get in on the door but its winter, my parents were staying with me, I’m 37 years old (and trying to learn to act like I am) and tbh £70 is a lot of money for a poor freelancer so I wrote a whimsical blog and tried to forget that my all time hero and one of the last living legends of my time was going to be a few miles away from me.
But I spend a lot of time on twitter and couldnt avoid having a peek. That’s when I saw a tweet mentioning a 2nd show on Friday night… I checked it out as much as possible and it all seemed legit – Prince was going to play a second show at the academy after the first (which it transpired was not actually sold out, someone walked up at 7.30pm, bought a ticket for £70 and walked straight in).
It’s better to regret something you have done than to regret something you havent done… and with my grandparents inheritance I could afford a few quid on something just for me. So I grabbed some clothes and my biggest coat and ran out of my house shouting at my protesting mother (“You cant afford it!”, “You’ll catch pnemonia!” etc) that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity and drove to studentville without even thinking about where to park in Manchester at 10pm on a Friday night.
Not knowing there was an official car park I drove down Oxford Rd until inspiration struck and lo and behold there was just enough room behind a BMW to sneak my unicorn car and off I went. I arrived to find a queue of about 30 people outside the union building (not the academy 1 where he was playing). The security sacastically told me this was the right queue so I went to the end. The people in front of me seemed nice but then a group of girls arrived behind me and seemed to think I didnt need space to exist in which was very annoying esp. when security asked us all to stand back in single file. There was an amusing moment where 2 lads walked past us and were stopped by 2 little girls who asked for their autographs. Us old folk in the queue stiffled giggles but when they asked one of the blokes in front of me to take a photo of them together most of us actually laughed out loud (an endearing laugh, it was super sweet). The lads, who were obviously in a band who had played one of the other academys looked embarrassed but the kids were happy and even squealed as they walked off!
I stood in the rain and listened to the various theories as nobody really had a clue other than it was cash only and £70 (thankfully I had uncharacteristically withdrawn £70 on route)… but at around 20 to 11 when we started slowly filtering into the union building we all concluded that we were being put in a holding pen until the first gig had emptied out.
Having worked in a similar sized venue which often had club nights after big gigs I knew the logistical nightmare involved and these things werent done on whims of artists management not even Prince’s manager. When I entered the building I was told it was £35 and I cheered a small but audible cheer and paid my money, got searched (worried about my donut that I was allowed to keep) and followed the row of people into the academy 1… Realising that there was a gig in full swing I ran into a nearly full room to hear the encore… well the first of about 5 encores!
And wow what a fucking encore! Take me with you followed by a mash up of one of my favourite non Prince tunes, Crimson and Clover with Wild Thing (I was without exaggeration the only person I could see who appreciated this and dare I say knew the song!). After some mind blowing guitar moments and 2 sightings of the man himself the house lights went on. Many people stood around, more than usual at the end of gigs and the bar was still serving so I waited for our second show.
One of the band came on stage and thanked us and said see you tomorrow but still we waited. Having persuaded myself that I’d seen him and my 20 mins of Prince had been both worth the effort and the £35 I left and floated back to my car and its heaters which almost dried me out. On the way I happened upon some people who were commenting that he was playing another show and my heart stopped, what if I had left too early?!? But some other people explained that the first part of the gig (before we came in) was the first show started early as a thank you for those that had waited so long and the ‘second show’ was indeed a second show that the first lot of people were allowed to stay for as they had paid £70. What this actually means is – the whole hype thing didnt work in Manchester as its the rainy city and most of us thought fuck it so the show didnt sell out (which it would of needed to do as im guessing £70 x 2500, the capacity, only just pays for Prince!). Someone important shat themselves and someone came up with this great idea of a second show (I’m guessing Prince’s manager, it’s a managers kind of idea) and the academy messed up ever so slightly by not getting us in in time.
Whatever… Saturday afternoon I was feeling the effects of going mental with sciatica or whatever the hell is wrong with my back by chilling in bed. I saw a facebook post from my fellow crazy Prince fan saying if I wasnt satisfied with the 2nd show to ring the academy and get my ticket transferred to a Saturday one. So I rang in disbelief and was rang back an hour later confirming that I could come to the whole gig, for no extra money and I wouldnt have to wait very long so hell yes, put me on your list!
I still dont think my parents believed me but I set off once again, parked for free in an almost official parking spot and heading into what I thought would be chaos but was directed back to the union building to the queue for last nights ticket holders and almost immediately our queue filtered in bit by bit with the queue of normal ticket holders. Even after the barmaid who couldnt see who was first in her section I was easily about 10 people from the front and had a perfect view of the stage 50% of the time, by half 7.