The performance was announced following a ‘press conference’ at the home of London-based singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas, who was in attendance at the venue.
News of the secret show broke from the Twitter account of Prince’s manager Kiran Sharma, and – despite the tube strike – fans responded quickly, piling from buses and taxis into the queue, where the main topic of conversation was when – and if – Prince would appear on stage. The most popular rumour was 3am.
It began at midnight. The first part of the show was for press and guests only, meaning Prince and his three-piece band Third Eye Girl were playing to a small, very vocal audience. Taking to the stage in a fur gilet, heavy chains and sunglasses, Prince told the crowd, “Y’all don’t look like press to me,” before striking up the first song. Members of Mumford & Sons were present, including banjo player Winston Marshall who danced against the barrier throughout. The meaning of an “open soundcheck” quickly became apparent – though delivering a precise performance with plenty of interaction with the audiences, Prince frequently signalled to his sound engineers to change the levels on his guitar and vocals while playing.
Though no more than a couple of hundred people were present, Prince said it felt like “10,000”. He exited at 1am telling the crowd, “We will be here tomorrow, a bit earlier and a lot funkier.”
The US singer is expected to announce a series of shows promoting ‘Plectrumelectrum’, the first album by 3rdeyegirl – his new band. The plan is for Prince to play iconic venues in and around London and he chose La Havas’ house as the first.
After the show, La Havas described her day as “unforgettable – an amazing day.” Fans Sam Bysh and Kate Moon Martyr, who had queued outside, said the show was “unbelievable” and “beautiful”.