Prince has committed to a blockbuster, 21-date stretch performing in London this summer.
The Earth Tour will kick off Aug. 1 with seven dates at the new 17,000-plus capacity venue O2 Arena, which will open its doors for the first time the previous month.
Continuing with the concept tested with his 2004 U.S. Musicology tour, a free copy of the artist’s forthcoming album will be distributed with each ticket purchased.
Tickets will be capped at £31.21 ($62.24), with booking and CD postage and packaging fees bringing the total to £37.21 ($74.21).
In the context of U.K. ticket prices for superstars, the fee for Prince’s performances represents excellent value. The best seats for Barbra Streisand’s upcoming British shows cost £600 ($1,200), almost twenty times the price of Prince tickets.
The legendary artist look part in a press gathering at the Hospital Club in central London today to unveil the three-week stint, which will be his only European dates this year.
“Last time I was here a lot of people didn’t get to see me, so we’re trying to make it affordable,” he explained. “That’s why we’re doing an extended stay. I got used to this while working in Las Vegas. I also have a wide fanbase, which come to multiple shows all the time.”
During his stretch at the 3121 venue in Las Vegas, the artist and his band grasped the opportunity to broaden their music palate, performing a slew of alternative material, including a version of Beatles classic “The Long And Winding Road,” Amy Winehouse tracks and “a lot of jazz.”
Gig-goers in London should expect the unexpected, he declared today. “The mood, because there’s going to be so many nights here, we’re going to change the show every night. We’ve learned about 150 songs,” he added, “and it’ll be a lot of fun.”
A spokesman said “eclectic and surprising supports from around the world” would open for the star.
Prince’s hugely successful Musicology tour was built on similar principles — ticket prices were kept low, and the “Musicology” CD was bundled into the one price. The tour drew nearly 1.5 million people, more than any tour on the road that year, and generated $90.2 million in gross ticket sales, ranking second only to Madonna on the year-end Billboard Boxscore chart.
The O2 has been confirmed as the venue for just the first seven London dates. When asked where the other 14 dates would be played out, AEG Live senior VP Rob Hallett tells Billboard.biz. “You never know with Prince. He’s the Prince of surprises.” AEG Live, the live entertainment arm of U.S. entertainment conglomerate Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), is co-promoting the dates with Marshall Arts.
The inclusion of the CD for the London shows was down to “direct marketing”, Prince said today, adding “I don’t have to be in the speculation business. The record industry is going through tumultuous times at the moments.”
AEG is behind the O2, the formerly maligned Millennium Dome in Greenwich, southeast London. The complex, which will include the O2 Arena, has already booked a string of performers, including the Rolling Stones, Scissor Sisters, Take That and Justin Timberlake.