As much as the news of Prince's death this morning was sad and shocking, for those of us who saw him in Auckland on February 24, there came another possibly inappropriate and wholly selfish response: relief.

For we were lucky enough to have finally seen Prince play live. We, his patient New Zealand fans, had seen the genius up close.

He wasn't quite the Prince of old. But even in his solo-with-piano setting, he was still the Prince we'd hope he'd be.

Even without the guitar, the backing band, the James-Brown-meets-Hendrix stage show of his purple heyday, he was fiery, funky, and funny.

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For those who were lucky enough to see Prince live in Auckland may feel a sense of relief. Photo / Getty Images
For those who were lucky enough to see Prince live in Auckland may feel a sense of relief. Photo / Getty Images

As it turned out, his two back-to-back Auckland shows were two of a last dozen or so performances he would give before his untimely death.

It's all been so fast. The show was announced out of the blue just weeks beforehand.
Prince came and played. Now, just weeks later, he's gone.

We all got a free CD of his latest album on our way out. It's got some great Prince music on it.

But nothing compares to the enduring joy of that show.

The image of Prince on the Auckland stage, his face fixed in an impish grin, working up a rhythm on the ivories, then bursting into another song from his bottomless songbook will be how we remember him.

It was a cherished memory before yesterday's news. Now it's a precious one.