There’s an almost continuous fight for those of us who binge on “early performance” material of our favourite artists. That fight this week is being fought between Prince and those who are swashbuckling his work onto YouTube whenever they possibly can. Depending on which side of the fight you want to be on, below’s footage of the first-ever performance of ‘Purple Rain’ is either a triumphant (if not fleeting) win or a big fat L. Either way, it’s bloody fantastic watching.

The footage in question is Prince’s first performance of Purple Rain and is from around 1983, taking place at First Avenue. The gig was clearly a turning point for Prince and, although the crowd who were present at the time can be confident that they witnessed a piece of history when going back, reviewers form the Star-Tribune at the time noted they were becoming more and more “disinterested” as the song went on.

He was at that point in his career a fledgeling icon, having just seen ‘1999’ make a dent in the charts, Prince was ready to turn it up a notch. So, while performing for Minnesota’s Dance Theatre charity show, Prince decided that this night would be the night to debut some of his most iconic material. He provided fans with future muso-collateral by performing for the first time ‘Let’s Go Crazy’, ‘I Would Die 4 U’, ‘Baby, I’m A Star’ and of course, what would become the title track from his next LP, as well as the title of his first motion picture, ‘Purple Rain’.

The footage below is likely not to hang around for a while so we suggest you enjoy all 13 minutes of it while you get the chance. It’s a meaty version of the track but it feels even more impressive knowing that Prince performed it, all 780+ seconds of it, with the crowd not knowing a single lick of it.

Watch below Prince’s first-ever performance of his iconic track ‘Purple Rain’

Source: Consequence of Sound / Slate / City Pages

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