MONTREUX, Switzerland (Reuters) - Prince fans from across Europe converged on Montreux for two shows by the American musician whose rare appearance on the continent stretched well into Sunday morning.
The 51-year-old star closed the two-week Swiss Montreux Jazz Festival with a mix of old hits including “Little Red Corvette,” “Peach” and “Purple Rain” and fresh titles such as “Elixir” from his new album with singer Bria Valente.
Wearing a bright red suit, geometric gold necklace, and red and white platform shoes, the artist appeared on stage with his red guitar, bathed in his trademark purple light.
“Montreux, thank you,” Prince said, as he blew a kiss to the crowd before kicking off an encore with “Insatiable.”
Some 8,000 tickets for his two back-to-back concerts, priced up to $480 each, sold out in a record eight minutes when his only European booking this summer was announced just days after the death of Michael Jackson.
Prince performed a jazzy version of the song “In a Large Room With No Light” for both shows in Montreux, which organizers praised as a “groovy mix of soul, jazz and funk.”
Changing into a metallic grey outfit, he closed the second show with “Purple Rain,” a chart-topper marking its 25th year.
John Blackwell (drums), Rhonda Smith (bass) and Renato Net and Morris Hayes (both on keyboards) accompanied Prince at Stravinski Auditorium.
Claude Nobs, founder of the festival in its 43rd annual edition, told fans cheering in vain for a second encore: “The jazz set he created here tonight has never been performed elsewhere.”
Prince made his only other appearance at the legendary jazz festival along Lake Geneva two years ago, showing up at 3 a.m. to jam with his band at a free cafe.
Smith, his Canadian bassist and vocalist, said that the 2007 experience had convinced Prince to accept the return booking.
“It’s the love of the European public. He had a great time last time. There is a lot of respect, a relaxing feel and a very high artistic level,” Smith told the Swiss daily Le Matin.
“It’s like nowhere else,” she said.
“This was a very different show,” said Patrick O’Keeffe, from Ireland. “He rarely plays with just three band members, normally it is much bigger band with brass and horns and sax.”
Alessandro Rossi drove from Italy to catch the Grammy- and Academy- winner from Minneapolis. Rossi, in a purple t-shirt with “Prince” on the back, said: “Prince is always number one.”