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PRINCE has played his biggest surprise concert in London yet as he pursues his reinvention by fronting an all-girl band in a series of small concerts.

After playing to a few hundred ecstatic fans in Camden over two nights last week, some 2,000 fans waited hours to see the superstar strut his stuff at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire late on Sunday.

The last time Prince played a series of concerts in London, it was a 21-night residency at the 20,000-capacity O2 Arena in 2007.

In more modest circumstances on Sunday, Prince played for two-and-a-half hours, opening a funk-filled set with one of his best-known songs,Let’s Go Crazy.

The show was only announced a few hours beforehand when members of Prince’s new all-girl group 3RDEYEGIRL appeared on a BBC radio show.

By 1pm, just an hour after word slipped out, 150 people were queuing around the venue in chilly weather.

“I’ve been on watch since Wednesday, and when I saw they were going to make an announcement, I was ready to go when they said which venue it was going to be,” said one fan, who has already seen Prince 30 or 40 times.

“It’s Prince, he’s worth it,” said another fan, Neil, 30.

When the doors opened finally at 7.15pm, fans had a pleasant surprise — tickets were just £10 (RM54.70).

Every time Prince took centre stage, the crowd roared its approval, even for his new group’s songsI Could Never Take the Place of Your ManandPlectrum Electrum.

The 55-year-old American took to the piano for a medley ofDiamonds and Pearls,Purple Rain,When Doves CryandSign O’ the Times.

In between the mix of funk and rock, Prince laughed with the crowd about the low price of the tickets, saying: “That’s nice — that’s what we used to pay to go to concerts when I was a kid.”

The set was full of surprises, including a version ofPlay That Funky Musicby Wild Cherry, and Prince paid tribute to legendary funk musician George Clinton — “a teacher” — who was in the crowd.

Prince fans should have more chances to catch their hero in action because he has promised to continue his “residency” in London for the rest of February.

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