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Credit: Joel Bremer


Prince begins his reign: The singer shows what's to come in rare early performance, 1982


If there’s one iron that you can brand the singer Prince Rogers Nelson with it is ‘forward thinking’. The singer and artist had a habit of setting trends and it started happening right from the very beginning.

In these vintage clips, we take a look back at Prince at his incendiary dawn as he headlines the Capitol Theatre in 1982 and delivered a set capable of bringing the house, the street, and the future down.

When Prince finally broke on to the scene in 1979 through a series of uncompromisingly catchy songs and an equally eye-gouging array of costumes, the 1980s were begging for an injection of soul. It was something that Prince was more than happy to provide as he delivered his pop-rock anthems with a double dose of gospel, soul, and everything in between.

It built up to a hefty catalogue of hits by the time Prince sadly passed away in 2016. The singer leaving behind a long legacy of tunes that could make you laugh, cry and dance all in the same breath. The astonishing thing is, it has to be said, that even by the time of the videos below Prince already had a setlist brimming with bonafide bangers.

The footage may not be around for long, as with everything Prince-related, since his death the Prince Estate has begun to tighten the squeeze it has on any Prince content; audio, visual or otherwise. Luckily, for now at least, the video below remains untouched and a wonderful reminder of the purple power that effused from Prince’s persona.

The setlist borrows from both his debut record Prince and the 1981 album Controversy and sees Prince in his sultry and sleazy and salacious period. The singer, at this time, oozing sex with every move, arrived on stage at New Jersey’s Capitol Theatre with a swagger which belied his position.

Filmed a few years before he began to reach his commercial peak, the release of Purple Rain, and subsequent film, the concert sees Prince commanding his stage like the royalty he is. One of the first songs he plays on the night is ‘The Second Coming’, a gospel-inspired track that was being readied for its own film a la Purple Rain, though it sadly never got off the ground.

After that Prince rattles through hits like ‘Jack U Off’, ‘Controversy’, and ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’, displaying the multi-faceted talent he had in buckets. Sliding across the stage like a male-stripper, but a male-stripper who can absolutely wail on the guitar.

The set is jaw-dropping not because that’s we don’t expect Prince to put a show like this on but because he does so with the air of a legend that has not yet come to fruition. This is Prince beginning his reign.

Watch Prince perform an array of early hits at the Capitol Theatre in 1982.