Prince returns to the UK for three more shows – exclusive

Prince

The Purple One will play in Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds in May – and might we expect more gigs to follow?

Never one to shy away from surprises, Prince is to announce a return to the UK, just three months after the series of guerrilla gigs in London and Manchester that sparked wild excitement in February.

The Guardian understands that Prince has scheduled three shows – in Birmingham on 15 May, Manchester on 16 May and Leeds on 23 May – though at this stage, we have no information on venues, or even whether he'll be playing with his band, 3rdEyeGirl.

The news is sure to feed speculation that he is set to be the final headliner at Glastonbury, on Saturday 28 June. His last visit spanned most of February, so it's certainly within the realms of possibility he'll stay long enough to play at the festival in Somerset. Glastonbury founder Michael Eavis, however, has said the final headliner will be "one of the biggest bands in the world at the moment". Even if the festival appearance does not happen, the gap between the Manchester and Leeds dates suggests more shows might be scheduled.

However, given the singer's unpredictability, nothing can be assured. The shows in February – accompanied by an extensive interview in Mojo magazine – were expected to be promotion for the release of Prince's new album, Plectrum Electrum. Yet there has been no sign of the record, despite it originally having been announced more than a year ago.

Instead, since the UK shows, we have had the announcement that Prince has rejoined Warner, the label he fell out with cataclysmically nearly 20 years ago, causing him to appear with the word "Slave" daubed on his face.

In March he premiered a new song, Funknroll, on The Arsenio Hall Show, and in April he released a ballad called The Breakdown online.

Prince's shows in February received almost unanimously rave reviews. "These are performances by one of the greatest funk-rock bands ever," wrote Ben Beaumont-Thomas in the Guardian. "In the end, he balances earthly immediacy and heavenly art like no other musician."

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article was written by Michael Hann, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 30th April 2014 10.21 Europe/London

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