The excitement started in the middle of the night with a redrum-styled cryptic message on the Twitter account of Prince's all-female backing band 3RDEYEGIRL that was deleted around 8:30 a.m. "4th day of November, we need a purple high: OTNOROT CALLING…" it read.
OTNOROT spelled forwards is Toronto, of course, and over the weekend Prince was a short plane ride away in New York City for an appearance on Saturday Night Live. Ticketmaster also has a page with Prince's photo that says he is playing Massey Hall tonight. The venue is dark until Sarah McLachlan's concerts on Thursday and Friday.
Breakfast Television host Kevin Frankish, whose studio is around the corner from the 2765-capacity venue, wandered over to interview a couple of the 10 or so people in line at 9 a.m. and told them, "I have it on good authority that he is playing here tonight. I talked to some sources. Apparently the drum sets are already set up there, we're told last night, to get everything set and that that's what they're saying.
"I'm not going to go 100 percent," he added, "but I have some pretty good sources saying that it's 99 percent."
Music publicist Rebecca Webster told Billboard via email, "I'm number four in line. I arrived just after 8 a.m. this morning after tip on a tweet around 2 a.m. last night. Seeing as it's Prince playing in the best venue in Canada -- Massey Hall -- there was every reason to be the first to see if the rumour would become reality. And, it looks like the rumour is paying off! Thanks to technology, my office for the day is the Victoria street sidewalk, as I tether wifi from my phone."
Music management consultant Scott Morin, sporting a Prince t-shirt, told CP24, "I got up at 4:30 a.m. because I had a Twitter alert wake me up from his band with a cryptic message saying they were on their way to Toronto. That was enough for me. Prince has redefined popular music for 40 years. Him and Miles Davis are the two greatest artists to ever live in my opinion."
Around 11:30 a.m., former music journalist Paul Cantin posted on Facebook: "Lineup for surprise Prince gig at Massey Hall. I'm in line. Maybe 150 people ahead of me. Nobody in line knows anything. Security guard says rumours of wrist bands are false but they won't say anything else. Can I really hang in here for 8 + hours?"
Many people on Facebook lamented that they had to work and couldn't line up for tickets.
Prince, who once lived in Toronto when he was married to Manuela Testolini, played two sold-out shows at Air Canada Centre back in November 2011. Toronto native Donna Gratis plays guitar for him in 3rdEyeGirl. She hasn't tweeted about being in Toronto yet but did post on Nov. 2 about playing SNL.
"Grateful to have shared 8 unforgettable minutes w/ @3rdeygirl @liannelahavas @livwarfield @JOSHUAWORLD @trevguy & #PrinceOnSNL. Much Love!"