In a rare U.S. festival appearance, the late addition of Prince to the lineup of this year’s Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., proved to be successful, as the Purple One drew massive crowds to the event’s main stage last night (April 26). Prince took the stage nearly 30 minutes behind schedule, declaring: “Coachella, I am here.”
Playing well past midnight, Prince closed day two of Coachella with hits “1999,” “Little Red Corvette,” “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Purple Rain,” among others. After collaborations with Morris Day (“Jungle Love”) and Sheila E (“Glamorous Life”), Prince performed a handful of originals before venturing into covers of Radiohead’s “Creep” and the Beatles’ “Come Together.”
Prince, who had been a rumored Coachella headliner for several years, has just one other date on his upcoming schedule: a June 16 show at Dublin’s Croke Park.
Earlier in the evening, rock act Death Cab For Cutie laid the groundwork for Prince’s appearance. Toward the end of the band’s set, lead singer Ben Gibbard joked with the audience, asking, “Are you guys excited for Prince? He’ll be arriving soon in his purple helicopter.” Death Cab tested new songs from its upcoming album “Narrow Stairs,” due May 13, including “”I Will Possess Your Heart.” The group also played older cuts “Soul Meets Body,” “the New Year” and Why You’d Want to Live Here.”
Warming the stage for Prince as the 100-degree weather cooled, Portishead didn’t fail to set the mood its with eerie trip-hop. The reunited Britain act used Coachella as the launch pad for “Third,” its first studio album in more than a decade. The band previewed new song “Machine Gun,” as well as older material “Sour Times” and “Wandering Stars” from its 1994 debut album “Dummy.”
On the far side of Empire Polo Field, Coachella’s Sahara tent drew overwhelming crowds, namely from U.K. electro pop acts Hot Chip and M.I.A. Before closing its set with “Are You Ready for the Floor,” from its newest album “Made In the Dark,” Hot Chip delivered a danced-up version of New Order’s “Temptation.” M.I.A., who sported a platinum blonde wig, opened her performance with militia-laced “Bamboo Banga” and “Boyz,” from last year’s “Kala.” Both artists have performed at Coachella in recent years.
In the Mojave tent, Scars on Broadway — the new band from System of a Down guitarist/vocalist Daron Malakian and drummer John Dolmayan — brought a dose of hard rock to the festival, performing its recently dropped single “They Say.” SOAD bandmate Serj Tankian, who performed last night at the festival, watched from the side of the stage, giving nods of approval throughout the band’s raucous set. Scars on Broadway’s forthcoming debut album will likely appear this summer, Malakian recently told Billboard.com.
Other noteworthy performances on day two came from German electronic act Kraftwerk, which turned out “Autobahn” and “Computer Love” on the main stage; bass-heavy Brazilian electro rock act Bonde do Role, who brought the party to the Gobi tent with the catchy “Marina Gasolina”; indie rock act MGMT, playing spacey material from its debut album “Oracular Spectacular”; and U.K. producer-of-the-moment Mark Ronson, who recruited a number of artists (including Kaiser Chiefs vocalist Ricky Wilson) to help round out his set at the Outdoor Theatre.
For more Coachella coverage, visit the Billboard blog at JadedInsider.com.