Prince secret gig electrifies fans

Knutsford Guardian: Prince has played secret gigs in the capital Prince has played secret gigs in the capital

US singer Prince has promised to work his way up to "bigger venues" after delighting fans at a surprise gig in a small British venue.

He took to the stage of the Electric Ballroom in Camden, north London, late on Tuesday night backed by his new 3RDEYEGIRL band following speculation of a surprise performance.

Rumours of the gig began circulating on Twitter, with some fans fortunate enough to get tickets posting messages.

Kerry McCarthy, Labour MP for Bristol East, tweeted: "OK, curiosity got the better of me. Just seen Prince at Electric Ballroom and he was actually pretty damn good!"

Another fan, David Emery, tweeted: "Just saw Prince at the Electric Ballroom. My mind is beyond blown."

The gig, in front of fewer than 300 fans, came as Prince is expected to announce a number of UK tour dates today (Wednesday).

The enigmatic star flew into London on Tuesday to promote his new album, recorded with the all-female trio.

Details of his tour remain uncertain but Prince said he hoped to play "iconic" venues along the lines of music club the Bag o' Nails, where Jimi Hendrix once performed, and Ronnie Scott's jazz club.

Before the start of the gig at Camden's rock venue, he first stopped at the east London home of British soul singer Lianne La Havas, who met Prince last year while she was touring the US.

In her cosy living room in front of a fire, the band played two acoustic songs of what Prince called their "funky rock 'n' roll", including the newly-released single PretzelBodyLogic.

"We'll work our way up, if people like us, to bigger venues," Prince said.

He added that he hoped to record the band live during their stay in London, as well as buying "some clothes - and some tea".

The star, who has released global hit albums such as Purple Rain and Sign O'The Times, appeared on stage at the Electric Ballroom and opened with a slowed down version of I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man.

The gig, showcasing new material from his forthcoming Plectrum Electrum record, lasted for around half-an-hour before drawing to a close.

He told the crowd: "You sound like ten thousands. We love each and every one of you."

Prince and his band left the stage briefly before returning to say: "We'll be back tomorrow."

The gig was a few hundred yards from where the musician opened his own shop 20 years ago selling Prince merchandise, although the enterprise was short-lived and opened as his career was beginning to hit the doldrums. He has not had a UK top 10 hit since 1992.

He teased fans with promise of a further show at the Electric Ballroom by posting a link to a countdown clock online, with the seconds ticking by until 7pm tonight.

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