There is much recorded evidence that Prince has more rhythm in his little finger than most humans will or can ever possess.

Add the man's other nine digits, a piano, and that voice of his. Then have him pick the eyes out of his vast songbook for one and a half hours-plus and the result is, well, just remarkable.

Or so it was at the first of two concerts the man played at the Aotea Centre last night in what was the 57 year-old's debut live performance in New Zealand.

We got Prince as part of his Piano and a Microphone tour, a solo run of theatre shows on both sides of the Tasman with venue sizes helping jack the ticket prices to eye-watering levels.


And while a lack of one of Prince's many crash-hot backing bands behind him, and a grand piano in front might have risked this come off as an extended Vegas audition, it wasn't.

Because even when Prince goes minimalist, it's seems, his shows still turn out to be brilliantly, jubilantly, spontaneously excessive.

Funny too, with his entertaining array of smirks, and the occasional need to strut that stage with the red lights in his high heels flashing with every step.

The show started with I Would Die 4 U and ended triumphantly one and a half hours later with Nothing Compares 2 U.

In between, he reminded not only of his influence on text messaging, but that he's had so many hits he could ignore some or just patch others together into something strange and new.

A few songs in on Little Red Corvette swerved into Dirty Mind and out again.

Elsewhere, electro-funk songs of old like Girls & Boys or Controversy became stomping piano workouts. And his touchstone anthem Purple Rain, played as the final song before the encores, took flight despite the lack of its original searing guitar.

True, the swelling synthesized strings triggered, presumably, by his piano, did feel like a little too much icing on some of the cake, though you could understand the decoration on boudoir ballads like Condition of the Heart.

But when Prince stood to tickle a groove from the ivories, it was just infectious.

"My Daddy gave me rhythm," he said referring to his jazz player father as he broke into another syncopated rumble.

It was one of a few moments which suggested another line of parentage - Prince, lovechild of Little Richard and Nina Simone.

He sang up a storm too. There were falsetto ballads aplenty, but the performance of the night was the overdriven vocal on song-of-the-night Thieves in the Temple.

That set him up for the encore run which also included Raspberry Beret, and a mass singalong Kiss.

Yes, some Prince unplayed classics maybe didn't suit the format.

There were some new songs and one or two for the diehard follower only- it's been hard keeping up with his output in recent years due to his troubled relationship with the recording industry and internet.

Otherwise, though, one Prince, one microphone, ten fingers, 20 songs and 88 keys added up to something unforgettable.

Prince fans camp outside Vector Arena, hoping to lay their hands on tickets when they go on sale midday today.

The setlist of Prince's first show*

I Would Die 4 U

Little Red Corvette/Dirty Mind

I Feel 4 U


Condition of the Heart

Most Beautiful Girl in the World

Forever in My Life

RockNroll Love Affair


Pop Life

Black Muse

Girls and Boys


Thieves in the Temple


Raspberry Beret

Starfish and Coffee

Black Sweat


Purple Rain

Nothing Compares 2 U

*May not be 100% definitive

Correction: An earlier version of this review had the concert duration and two and a half hours not one and a half.