The ‘Wonder Tour’ seems an incredibly fitting name for Jay Prince’s run of shows this year, as indeed that is the emotion much of the audience seemed to feel; even before the rapper took to the stage, the energy in the upstairs room of Belgrave was unmistakable.
“We’re here to vibe with you tonight,” he declared. Clean rapping over ethereal, dreamy music is a staple of WONDER’s aesthetic and Prince did not disappoint by aweing the crowd with tracks ‘BEAMLIGHT’ and ‘LUV ME’.
Whipping out a guitar at times for soulful noodly solos, which gained no less appreciation than his measured rap style and groovy beats, Prince seemed genuinely glad to be up onstage. Expressing his appreciation for his fans, at times he completely abandoned the music to engage the audience with his thoughts on his musical process and how WONDER had helped him to grow as a person.
Hushing the crowd with the aid of his DJ, ChuckieOnline, Prince hunched over a tiny keyboard for something entirely new, to serenade us with a tune unfamiliar at first – that is, until he called out ‘‘It’s that bump it’s that funk, it’s that thing that make you jump’’ and it became apparent that this was a rendition of his immensely popular 2015 hit, ‘Polaroids’. At this point, the music and lights kicked back in at full force, accompanied by an overwhelming response of dancing and cheering.
This was followed up with an incredibly high-energy performance of Prince’s most popular songs, ‘In The Morning’ and ‘Father, Father’, both showcasing his ability to work a crowd, with nearly every person in attendance bellowing the catchy hooks.
The evening was rounded off with an encore of his collaborative hit with singer Mahalia, ‘I Believe In You’, an earnestly feel-good sing-along that left a feeling of wonder as the lights dimmed.
Header image via Tom Weatherilt