Paradiso, 25 March 1995

Sometime ago I wrote that if I ever got a time machine I would immediately head back to 1995 and the March 26th show a Paradiso. Mr Herman Hagen very kindly contacted me, and said that if this whole crazy time machine notion ever played out I should say hello to him on the 26th. He would be easy to find- having a black eye from one of Mayte’s boots from the show on the 25th.  So here I am with a recording of the 25th in my hand, already to give it a listen. Obviously I will not to hear the moment when Mayte stage dives and catches Mr Hagen in the eye, but at least I can hear the show and be with Herman in spirit if not in body, after all I am still some way off from completing my time machine.

25th March, 1995, Paradiso Amsterdam

“Go Michael, Go Michael” is a great way to start the show, and Michael B does come to the party with solid pound to introduce the band and the music. The recording isn’t too bad, and you can pick up the party atmosphere of the show right away. Prince has the crowd on has side right from the get go, having them sing along with him throughout Funky. It’s hard not to like it, and I do feel as if I am there as the crowd cheers and chants their way through the song. It’s no surprise that there is something for everyone in this first song, Mr Hayes adds his depth to it, and Prince throws in some funky guitar mid-song before indulging is some fast solos near the end. We are off to a fine start, and the band is feeling hot right from the first note.

Prince 1995 fun

The last few months I have written of my growing appreciation of 18 And Over, and here is no different. Prince dwells on the chorus this time, and obviously is getting a lot of enjoyment from having the crowd sing it back to him. The house is empty so I happily sing along, safe in the knowledge that my partner is going to walk in and quiz me on the questionable lyrics. Tommy plays a light sounding piano solo, unfortunately the recording is quiet at this moment, so I don’t enjoy it as much as I should. The long guitar break from Prince has me closing my eyes in enjoyment, not a loud rock solo, but a more measured and beautiful sounding break that well suits the late night vibe of the song. The song ends on a crowd pleasing high and they happily sing the chorus under Princes guidance.

Now is much deeper sounding, and more chaotic to boot. It’s not as fast as it is on record, and for me it at times lacks a spark. The best moments for me are the chorus and the ever present Morris Hayes. For the longest time I don’t feel it, but eventually Prince and the band do get to me, and there is some hand clapping and a passionate howl from Prince that has me completely sold on it. The song becomes the inevitable jam with a chant of “go Michael, go Michael” leading us into new territory. There is some popping bass to enjoy as the song slows and spins. There is a jam to the end with that is OK to me, although I feel I’m not getting the full experience listening to the audience recording. It’s something that needs to be heard live rather than a recording of.

I Believe In You was a staple in the setlist at the time, and although I do like the squelchy bass I am not really feeling the rest of the song tonight. There is a guitar break by Prince, rather pedestrian by his standards and even as it shimmers and shakes I still don’t get that spark of energy. It’s the second shortest song of the evening however and as it finishes I look forward to returning to the jams.

But first we get hi-tempo Proud Mary, with plenty of guitar runs from Prince. Its kept to the point, and introduction verse and chorus, then a minute of Princes soloing before a return to the chorus as the song finishes with a final burst from Prince. It’s all very sharp and not a note is wasted. It wraps up this burst of shorter songs and now we do indeed return to the longer jam.

Prince 1995 fun b

And when I say longer jams The Ride is one of the first ones I think of.  The rendition here is exactly as you might expect, after a smoky start Prince and his guitar ramp up, and as he finishes his solo the crowd gives a very appreciative cheer. I can hear why too, Prince plays expressively and passionately, while all the time there is the feeling that he is steadily in control. Everything is in its place, and as it should be. A great late night burner, Prince once again delivers with The Ride.

Glam Slam Boogie comes up next, and for the first time I think of the word groove. It does have a groove to it, and I easily bob along to it, as well as sing along with the crowd and their “ow we oh”. The guitar takes a back seat for a while and we have a couple of cool sounding keyboard breaks, something a bit different to break it up. It’s so easy sounding, and is a delight to listen to, I find it very uplifting as it plays. It could have been another 10 minute jam, but Prince and the band wrap it up in half that time, a shame as I was quite happy chilling out to this one, Mayte’s tambourine solo being a definite highlight.

Days Of Wild has a different sound to it, it’s not as aggressive sounding, although it is more in tune with what we have heard already, and more laid back in sound. I still like Princes lyrics, even if he’s not spitting them hard. Even the singing of the crowd of “these are the days, these are the days” sounds somewhat muted. The bass starts rolling fast as we get a segue into Hair for a verse before the hook of Days Of Wild returns again with new enthusiasm. The crowd is much more into at this stage, and the singing returns with more vim and vigour. A final burst from Prince and the band finishes the song on a high after a slow start.

Prince 1995 fun c

From one wild song to another as Prince next kicks off Get Wild. Its a great performance, and to be honest I forget to write for the first couple of minutes as I listen intently. The vocals are catchy and infectious, and Maytes input is equally fun. The party sounds full in effect now, and I could easily see myself bouncing along to this song. The crowd adds a fast soul clap to the proceedings as Prince introduces us to the “play the motherfuckin bass” chant. I want to chant along to as the band is on fire at this stage and there is plenty of intensity to the song and performance. The band do sound as if they are getting wild, and I love that the performance and music match the lyrics. Each band member takes their turn to get wild, all of them add something to the song- I can hear the wildness coming out of the speakers at me. The soul clap comes down like rain, the crowd staying involved to the end with their singing and chanting, especially as Prince begins to sing “The roof is on fire” It becomes a jam that sounds as if it might go for ever, guitar comes and goes, as does singing and chanting, the occasional chorus and some cool sounding keyboards. Things sharpens near the end of the song with a guitar break from Prince before the groove tightens right up for the end. It’s only fitting that the “ow we oh” chant carries us through to a final roll from Michael B and the finish of the show.

I have listened to a lot of shows from 1995 in the last six months, and I think I may have reached saturation point. This show was funky, and the band was exceptional and tight. For all that though, I never quite warmed to it, even though it ticked many boxes of what I look for. Like I said, I have listened to plenty of shows like this in the last six months, and I think I am ready for something new. Sorry Herman, if I do ever finish that time machine I will buy you a beer at the show on the 26th, but don’t expect to see me on the 25th.

Thanks for reading, I have been very run down and sick for the last couple of weeks, and I think you can see that in the way I write. I’ll be back next week, back at full power and full of the joy of life

Take care
Hamish

Prince 1995 fun d

 

The Astoria 1995

Recently I took a good listen to the Emporium set from London 1995. Viv Canal kindly got in touch to let me know that he had seen his first aftershow about this time at another London venue – The Astoria. This got me to thinking that I should give this one a listen to as well, and I did wonder about it as I couldn’t immediately recall hearing it before. Some digging revealed that I do have it, and it was actually a bootleg I remember very well, as I paid far too much for it back in the 1990’s. It has sat unloved on the shelf for too long, and is well overdue for another listen. It’s immediately made more appealing by the fact that both George Benson and Chaka Khan play with Prince and the band, and I do wonder why I haven’t played it more. The reason being, perhaps, that the recording isn’t great? I don’t recall, and there’s only one way to find out, let’s give it a spin.

9th March (am) 1995, The Astoria London

George Benson makes his appearance on the first song of the set – Glam Slam Boogie. Without hearing it and just seeing the name on the case it seems like a match made in heaven, one can almost hear the guitar sound of George Benson working very well with the lighter guitar playing that Prince sometimes indulges in. The reality is not quite what I expect, but still well worth the listen. Prince tells the crowd that George Benson is one of his heroes, and I fully believe him, you can hear it in the way Prince plays- there certainly is some influence there. The song is a fine introduction for the band as they each play their own solo as the groove carries us along just right. The sound of the recording is much better than I remember, and I am finding it to be a very easy listen. Each instrument can be heard clearly, and the drum sounds full without ever taking over. It takes some time to reach George Benson and his playing, and he is well hyped up by Princes introduction. His solo is worth the wait, and as he plays I can hear how Prince has been influenced by him.  The solo is shorter than I hoped, and Prince resumes his dialogue with the crowd, this time having them singing “ooww, weee, oooww”. They sound great, and for a minute I am a touch envious and wish I was there.

1995 GlamSlam

We go from one hero to another as the soft introduction of Sweet Thing brings Chaka Khan to the fore. It’s ethereal sounding, the sound of the keyboard wash while the guitar cascades, I am lost in the music as it plays. The crowd recognizes Chaka as she comes to the stage, and there is an appreciative applause before she begins her vocal delivery. I thought the intro was beautiful, things get even better as she sings. Its glorious in every way, and already I am regretting I haven’t been playing this bootleg more often, things are off to a wonderful start. The vocals are the centre piece as they intertwine, raise and fall, and I feel myself falling in love as I listen to it.

Things become more upbeat as the guitar begins a wah-wah sound and You Got The Love begins. A song from Chaka’s back catalogue, it’s not something I am overly familiar with, but I do like the bands performance, and Chaka always gives a great vocal performance. As the song plays on I find I am swept up by it, and I find I am turning it up louder and louder as it goes- always a good sign. There is some silky guitar work near the end by Prince, he sounds good but it’s not enough to upstage Chaka or the band especially as they up the groove for the climax of the song.

1995 Prince

Love Thy Will Be Done initially sounds distant, but soon enough it becomes stronger as the audience claps along. It’s got a sound that is right to be played with, and sure enough it is played out with a suitable long introduction before Prince speaks. As he counts off again the sound suddenly opens right up and he plays some punchy guitar that serves as a wakeup call. It’s probably wrong to say this, but I prefer Martika’s singing to his, at least based on this performance, however the guitar playing amply compensates as I find the performance again to be top notch. I have to give special mention to the last lead guitar break, it had just enough fire to ignite the song for me.

Following straight after is Funky. I loved the version that he played at Emporium, this one tonight doesn’t reach the same heights for me, although the chorus has me sitting up and taking notice, especially as Prince hits us with a blast of lead guitar every time. Things get seriously intense after the last chorus, and at this point the guitar is deep and rough sounding, it’s just the sort of naked raw sound I like to hear.

1995 Prince Netherlands

I actually salivate as 18 And Over begins. I have always had a soft spot for it on the album, and in the last few years I have warmed to the live versions, to the point now where it is something I look forward to in the set. The music is enchanting, and I find Princes vocals to be just on the right side of clever, I listen with a big sloppy grin on my face as he sings. People get different things out of different shows, and for me this is the highlight. I don’t care if there’s no guitar solos, or a soaring vocal performance, the mood and groove of the song is just right for me. Despite the smutty lyrics the music retains a sense of elegance, its beautifully balanced.

Prince next plays homage to another one of his heroes with an enthusiastic cover of Graham Central Stations I Believe In You. The first couple of minutes is very much a band performance, until Prince begins to play his guitar with a loud solo that claims the song as his own. There’s still plenty of funk there, but Prince certainly puts his stamp on it with his crisp and crunchy guitar sound.

As The Ride begins I know we are about to get a whole lot more guitar, yet in a completely different style. Sure enough after a slow steady start Prince begins to weave his magic on his guitar. It’s got an easy swagger to it, and as Prince is so fond of saying, they do indeed sound as if they have days to play. He plays his solo for quite some time, and I find it interesting to listen to without ever feeling its punching me in the face with intensity. In particular I like the way he gets the guitar to whinny and rear up like a horse, the sound of it definitely evokes that image.

1995 P and M

The last song played by the band for the evening is an extended Get Wild, I say extended but in reality it’s always this way, played out to the max. The popping bass solo is cool, all “up” sounding and bright. The smile stays on my face Prince has the crowd singing “play that motherfuckin bass” -oh to be there! Mr Hayes comes to the party with a trademark solo, very playful and heartfelt. Tommy matches him with a more electrifying break, its shorter and much sharper.  As it becomes a jam and groove with Mayte dancing, it needs to be seen as much as it needs to be heard, all the calls for her to shake her money maker has all sorts of images playing in my mind. I hope for much more music to follow but the song ends at this stage, as does the show.

As a final exclamation point, Gold is played over the P.A. It is on the recording, nice and clear and, although it’s good to hear, it doesn’t add anything else in terms of the show, especially since it was later released and now familiar to us all.

Personally, I think Viv was lucky to see this as his first after show. The centre piece of the show was the band themselves, and at this stage of his career Prince was very trusting of his band, as I have written of other shows from this era the band sound like they are a gang, bonded together against the world. This isn’t a setlist to set the world on fire, but it was all played  well and passionately and with the bonus of George Benson and Chaka, it all adds up to make this a show worth listening to. Thanks for the recommendation Viv, I will be putting this one in the car for the next road trip.

have a great week
next time, back to 1986 for the end of The Revolution
-Hamish

 

London, The Emporium 1995 – Part 2

The bootleg I listened to last week covers two nights that Prince played at The Emporium London in March of 1995. Last week we listened to the first show from March 22nd, and today I will be listening to the second part of the recording covering the show on the 23rd. This bootleg is hugely popular, and I know it many people hold it dear. The 3 CD pack covers two nights, and those two nights Prince gave us a fantastic mix of styles and songs. Last week’s show I had a great time listening to, and I expect more of the same this time round.

23rd March (am), 1995, The Emporium London

The opening drum solo has me excited right from the beginning. Drum solos aren’t my thing, but I listen carefully as Michael B rolls around the kit, and already I have a good feeling about this show. The drum solo is achingly short, but starts the gig with an exclamation point.

We roll into The Ride, and the band have me hooked as they groove on it. Prince sings with swagger and drawls over some lines which gives it a nice bluesy sound. The sound of the recording gets much better after a weak start and when Prince calls “dirty up” as he begins to howl on the guitar it sounds much warmer on the ears. This recording is feeling different from the previous night already, there seems to be much more of Prince and his guitar right from the start, and as is usual he plays for some time over The Ride, effortlessly in his cool. That good feeling I had at the start of the show is proving to be well founded.

Prince1995a

This is further emphasized as Poorgoo begins and the crowd take up a chant right from the start. Prince draws a smile as he asks how they are doing, then replying “Bullshit” before asking again. He’s cheeky and funny, and it sounds relaxed on the recording. The guitar is the centre of attention and this time it’s darker and stronger, and much more in the mix. I liked the guitar in The Ride previous, here he takes it up and notch, and there is the feeling that both he and the crowd are beginning to warm up.

The crunching start of Honky Tonk Woman is electrifying, and it’s at this point that I realize we are essentially getting a performance of The Undertaker project, but with the addition of Morris Hayes. There is a moment of heavy distortion on the recording that has me nervous for a second, but it resolves itself as Mr Hayes gives us another classic sounding solo. As the song closes out Prince delivers a great line with “One time I opened for the Rolling Stones, I go booed off. Perhaps I should have played that shit”

Bambi adds a bit more fire to the evening, and the intensity rises as Prince plays some blistering guitar. The only negative being, at this stage the recording becomes a little thin. Still, Prince sounds great and I am able to look past the quality of the recording and enjoy it for what it is. After a good start, things become even better as it does become just about Prince and his guitar playing. The song builds until we are left with a final flurry from Prince that ends in a furious howl.

I was listening to the album version of Zannalee only earlier today, and I am happy to hear it again here in the live context. It’s much more lively, and sounds nice and gritty with some of the polish rubbed off for the show. It’s still uplifting in spirit, and at first I find I am listening to Morris Hayes on the keyboard, but once Prince begins to solo its game over. The singing is joyful sounding, and the overall vibe of the performance and recording is fun. It’s another gear change in the show, and takes us to another level.

Prince Slave 95

Prince speaks as the groove of The Undertaker begins, with a speech about guns and troubles in America. I have high hopes for the song, especially as Prince introduces Eric Leeds to the mix. First though we have a great lead break on the keyboards. I am unsure to exactly who is playing, but my word its good, nice full organ sound swirling around. I know for a fact it’s Tommy Barbarella who plays the next solo, Prince has the crowd chanting his name as he plays. It’s more piano sounding, and although it doesn’t reach the heights of the previous solo, it’s still very good. I could go on and on about this song, this performance is very groovy, and the only thing that could make it better would be a little less chat from the crowd. Eric Leeds playing the last minute is just the icing on the cake.

We cut into something much more up-tempo next as the band takes on Funky Stuff. It’s infectious, with its quick sound, and Eric playing some runs over the first minute before the swirling organ returns, with the swing of it driving us forward all the time. Part of me wants to move, and part of me wants to listen and catch every note that Eric blows our way. Eric is at the centre of it, and I could sit for hours listening to him play over this sort of music. It’s brilliant stuff, and I am pleased I chose this particular recording to listen to this week.

Things slow again as Prince is heard again when Johnny begins. I can’t decide if the lyrics are silly, or brilliant, all I know is that this is great performance of the song. Prince is obviously in good humour, and his call of “Tommy, tickle me” that starts Barbarella’s solo again has me smiling. This is very much a band performance, no one person dominates, and this is highlighted as Prince calls for everyone to solo at once. NPG in the M***F**ing house indeed.

We spin back into Funky Stuff, which to my ears sounds faster than before. The playing is more loose than previously and it becomes fantastically funky as Prince sings Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine. I can speak highly enough of this particular performance and again Eric Leeds is on hand to add that little bit extra. This is perhaps my favourite version Prince covering this song, it’s mind blowingly cool.

Prince 1995 guitar

Prince keeps Eric close by as the next song in the setlist is Asswoop. Again it’s fabulous to have a rarity like this in the show, and I like that Eric receives the praise and credit from Prince. We feel a million miles away from the guitar heavy first half hour, this is very light sounding, and a chance for Eric to show us a different side of his playing compared to what we have heard so far at this show. The band stay in the background as Eric solos, and yet again I have to praise this band for being so versatile, and just down-right badass. They truly were one of his greatest bands.

17 is a natural fit to follow straight after, and keeps Eric Leeds front and centre. As much as I enjoy the song, I can hear the intensity of the show drop off, and things do feel like they are going in slow motion for a while. That doesn’t detract from my enjoyment here at home though, and I get a kick out of hearing another rarity.

The next song also features Eric Leeds, an instrumental of The Most Beautiful Girl in the World lead by the saxophone. Anyone who has heard the remixes of The Most Beautiful Girl In The World won’t be surprised by this, and it is a nice arrangement. There is also delicate guitar work by Prince which holds my attention. Prince does come to the microphone for the chorus, but it’s the crowd that does the bulk of the singing, and that is a cool live moment which is what these shows are all about.

I recognize I Believe In You right away, it is another song I have heard countless times. This band is tailor made for songs such as this, and I have to mention Morris Hayes again who is all over this one. He does eventually give way to Eric Leeds, who has another moment that carries us to the end of the song.

Things get seriously funky at this point as the hard, heavy grooves of Days Of Wild takes up. This is one for the ages, with plenty of audience chanting, the deep groove, and Eric Leeds carrying the first few minutes, before Prince sings- not spitting the lyrics as strongly as usual, instead sounding more relaxed and groove focused. Likewise, the first bass solo isn’t as strong, similarly sounding more relaxed and groovy. The song is not brain crushingly heavy as it sometimes as, instead it seems to be more colourful, but all the same it’s locked into that fantastic groove. Prince is certainly getting his money’s worth out of Eric as he gives us another withering solo before Prince comes back singing Hair. There is no mistaking, this is a proper aftershow, especially when the audience take up the Days Of Wild chants. Now, this is the sort of funk I love.

Prince1995

We stay in that funky place as next Prince introduces the song Funky. It’s another chance for the crowd to sing and be part of the show, and they take to it with great gusto. The audience chatting we had at the start of the recording is now a distance memory, and they are well and truly engaged in the show at this point. Prince has the perfect response with several quick guitar breaks that serve as a counter point to the crowds chanting. There is a brief rap from an audience member that, although not musically great, still very much keeps in the spirit of the evening, and I love that Prince includes it.

Glam Slam Boogie is a chance for the band to stretch out and take a turn to solo. It has an easy way about it, and it feels as if it might go all night long. Eric’s solo is more in the background than previously, and I can hear the guitar lines much clearer as the band plays. With the crowd chanting their lines I feel like I am almost there myself. Barbarella plays a piano solo with some seriousness about it, although it does get faster and lighter as it goes. Prince calls for a “Five in the morning solo” from Eric, and I think everyone in the crowd and I know exactly the sort of thing he means. Mr Hayes gets the same call, and he ably delivers something that I would call a “five in the morning solo”

The crowd is right into Sexy MF, and sing every line perfectly, much better than I could ever do. It’s impressive to hear, and another cool aftershow moment to hear them singing the verses to Prince. We get a well-rounded performance with a solo from Eric before Prince picks out an equally sharp solo on his guitar. As Morris plays another solo I can see that this show has been heavy on solos from everyone, and has been a showcase for this band, and it highlights again how good they were.

“Clap your hands, clap your hands” and I wonder what will follow. Prince answers soon enough with some funky guitar and “Pussy Control”. It’s an interesting start, and he keeps it in this vein as the song kicks off. The groove is strong, and it has a much funkier and darker sound. Princes rap isn’t as fast as on record, and the band are much more prominent. The chorus is also much more laid back. I have to say, I love this arrangement, as much as I like the album version, this one tops it. I think it’s that extra element of funk that does it for me, and the sheer coolness of it. The obligatory sax solo and the swirling organ of Morris Hayes seals the deal for me.

This ain't a photo session motherfucker

This ain’t a photo session motherfucker

The segue into Funky design is equally cool, with the sax and Prince’s call of “G” taking us through. Prince does chide an audience member “this ain’t a photo session motherfucker”, which makes me laugh even after all these years. Prince sings the first line of Funky Design and the crowd pick it up immediately with the chant. As Prince rails against DJs, and praises the virtues of live music I am reminded of how much I must have played this over the years, I find I can match him word for word as he speaks. Strangely enough I can’t remember his lyrics, but I remember little speeches like this. The song increases in speed a fraction and I can hear we are building to the finish. Sure enough things increase in intensity before Prince brings things to a halt with “On the one”

This is one of the great bootlegs. It may not be one of the great recordings, but as a package it is sublime. The show is phenomenal, and the recording does a serviceable job of picking up not just the music, but also the vibe of the show. I have listened to this plenty of times over the years, and listening to it more closely now I think it will still be being played at my house for some years to come. There are other shows from this period I enjoy more, but if I am honest this one is just as good as anything else from 1995.

Thanks for reading,
Same again next week
Hamish

 

 

London, The Emporium 1995 – Part 1

This week’s bootleg has a special place in my heart. It may not be the greatest bootleg of all time, but it is the one that I have listened to most. When I was younger I lived in London for a few years, about the same time I bought my first iPod, and the music I had on it was severely limited. Today’s recording was one of the few Prince shows I had with me, and I listened to it many times as I shuttled back and forth from work.  It was quite some time before I was able to put more music on my iPod, and over the course of the year I listened to it countless times. The show itself comes from 1995,  a couple of weeks after the Wembley show, but a few days before the Paradiso show and the Dublin show with Bono. What I find so good about these shows is that they are all extremely different from each other, and stand up to repeated listens. It’s at this time that Prince released Exodus with the NPG, and this show is an interesting mix of songs from that album and some other odd songs from that era that never really found a home. It looks like an unusual mix, but they all work well together.

22nd March (am), 1995, The Emporium London

Given the lay of the land at that time, it’s no surprise that Prince begins the show by heavily promoting the Exodus album. He gives the crowd some titles and they respond with a supporting cheer to every title. Then we get into things with a chugging drum sound, some swirling organ and the song Big Fun. Its cooler than cool, and although Prince does sing early on, it’s the sound of the organ and bass playing over the drums that carries the day. The looping roll of it is broken by Eric Leeds sax playing, and listening to it now it’s easy to get carried away by the snaking sound of it, my head nods involuntary to it as the it flows on. This is the first live performance of Big Fun, and it is a tremendous debut, at almost 10 minutes of mostly Eric Leeds and Morris Hayes things couldn’t get much better.

Prince London 1995

A sharp change in tempo moves the show along briskly, and its Race that next gets an airing. In a lot of ways things are very similar to Big Fun, with the song being another chance for Morris Hayes to strut his stuff, the first few minutes being a nice showcase of his sound. Things become more balanced as Prince sings, but I find I am enjoying the band performance just as much as Prince. The jam feel resumes, and we have a nice Controversy riff played on the keyboard, which in this context sounds very cool to my ears. We also get a “the roof, the roof, the roof is on fire” chant, which has appeared in Prince concerts and shows many times over the years. Just like the Controversy riff, the appearance of a few lines of Girls And Boys reminds us that Prince isn’t quite dead, even if the setlist would have you believe otherwise. I do like the Goldaxxe and the solo played before the segue to the next song is worth a listen.

I have always liked Superhero, and I especially like this version. It’s not a great recording, what makes it so good for me is the band, and the energy they infused it with, both at the chorus and the keyboard riff. It swings and has a funk to it that makes me move. It has an uplifting keyboard riff, with somewhat of a funky Commodores feel to it, and I can’t help but think of Machine Gun when I hear it.

Dark by name, the song itself lightens the show, and with Eric Leeds again playing it continues to follow the brightened sound of Superhero. The horns have plenty of long swells, and with the keyboard playing similar long chords it is very warm sounding. I thought the first half of the song was good, the second half was even better as Eric Leeds takes over. He doesn’t push anything too hard, instead he flows in and out beautifully. As always I find Eric’s contribution just as important as Princes.

Prince Slave 95

Sweet Thing is a firm favourite of Princes, and of mine. The cascading guitar is beautiful, and even with this average sounding recording it is still sharp and clear. Stacy Francis does all the singing, I’m not taken by her, although she does win me over as she gets deeper into the song. I think she would be better served on a higher quality recording, but her vocal abilities are clearly demonstrated here. For me the high point is near the end of the song as the guitar echoes her vocals, a touching moment that works well despite the cracks in the recording.

I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl) was first covered in Vienna 1987, here it makes a reappearance.  The robotic, automatic funk of the guitar is killer, as is Princes vocal delivery. This time its Barbarella who gets a shout out for a solo, but he is no more than starting when we swiftly transition into Skin Tight.

This is a song I always get a lot of mileage out of, the guitar, bass and keyboard interplay slays me everytime, as does Princes vocals. Its keep minimal at this show, barely a couple of minutes, however that is a great two minutes and I can hear the band are doing their thing with style through and through.

The funk doesn’t let up for a instant, with the next song performed being Funky Stuff. I know the chant right away, but in this case resist the urge to sing along as Eric Leeds again plays up a storm. When we reach the break down things heat up, with Prince calling on Eric to school the audience. Prince preaches about real instruments and his words are reinforced by some great sax work that is matched on the guitar. There is also the classic moment when Prince calls for the band to give him 25, something they do very well.

Exodus

When one is tired of the Santana medley, then one is tired of life. This is the moment when Prince engages in some of his lead guitar fireworks. Its a fitting tribute to his hero, and I can only imagine how full blooded this would have sounded at the show. Prince is a great one for sharing the spot light, so we get a Michael B moment as well as a solo from Tommy Barbarella. Both are good in their own way, but it’s Prince and his guitar skills that we want to hear in this song, and he delivers that in spades in the final few minutes. He switches from a buzzing guitar sound one moment to a razor sharp sound the next, and its right now that I am lost in the show and forget that this is an audience recording.

Prince tells us that Mayte says they can’t leave until they do Get Wild, I don’t believe him but I am thrilled to hear it. This song is very much of the time, and to me sounds like the sort of funk jam that Prince would write with ease in the mid 1990’s. As you might expect there is plenty of chanting and a casualness on stage as the music raises and lowers in intensity. Eric gets a moment as does Tommy Barbarella again, and mostly it is Prince toying with the audience and the band. I only wish I could see it, especially as Prince calls to Mayte to shake her money maker. There is a camaraderie you can hear between Prince and the band and do sound like a good bunch of friends together on stage. This is a jam that sounds as if it might last all night, and they do throw everything bar the kitchen sink into the song, making it an epic 15 minutes.

The chant of “Lets get satisfied’ takes us into the next song which is Funky Design. It still retains a shout of “Get Wild” for the first minute before some lead guitar takes us to a different place. When Prince starts chanting “Blow your mind, blow your mind”, thats when the song starts proper for me. The song is full of strut and swagger, and its always empowering to hear Prince sing it. I would bust out a couple of verses myself, but it ends after a verse and chorus.

Prince tells the crowd that they’ll be back the next night (next weeks blog post) and a laid back dripping Johnny brings us towards the end of the show. Its an excuse to have the crowd chanting “NPG, in the M***f*** house, before we have some tasty keyboard playing. I was expecting this be stretched out as well, although it stops abruptly with Prince calling “On the one” and the show is over.

They say familiarity breeds contempt, but listening to this show again I find my feelings to it are just as warm as the day I first heard it. An audience recording, true, but it covers  a show from the most fascinating few months of Princes career. There are other shows from 1995 that I enjoy more, but this has its place in the canon, and its part is an essential piece of the story. In my life I have heard this recording 100’s of times, and I think I’ll be giving it a few more listens in future too.

Thanks for taking the time to drop by
See you next week
-Hamish

The Pod – Dublin 1995

In many ways me and my brother are complete opposites. Like most boys, when growing up we would fight constantly, sometimes coming to blows. Now days it is the complete opposite and I consider him to be my best friend. During our teenage years we are different tastes in music, and we would often make mix tapes for each other trying promote ‘our’ type of music respectively. I would often get tapes from him full of Metallica and AC/DC and in return I would give him tapes with bands like The Cure, The Pixies and Sonic Youth. Sometimes I would throw a Prince song on there, but it would have to be a heavy guitar driven song to have him listen. About the only music we agreed on when we were 15 years old was U2. The only time we wouldn’t squabble about who’s turn it was to use the stereo would be when one of us would play U2, it’s something we could both agree was good. Which brings me to today’s show, a Prince after show from 1995 which has Bono himself singing the opening song. My brother sometimes admitted liking The Cross, you would think having Bono singing it as the first song would be enough for him to give the show a try. Unfortunately the quality isn’t fantastic, and I’m not sure I could convince him to give it a try. On the other hand, I am very interested to give this a close listen, it does have some great songs from this time period and it will be a nice change from a lot of the shows I have listened to recently. So I will be listening to this one with my teenage ears for me and my brother.

31 March 1995 (am)  The Pod, Dublin

The Cross is the first song we hear at the show, straight out of the box. I like it despite the rough recording. The music is delicate and alluring, and I quite like the audience noise, it lends it a certain ambiance. It a novelty to hear Bono singing the song, but to be honest novelty value isn’t enough. Sure his singing is fine, and the song is appropriate for his style, but he doesn’t have the same depth of feeling in it as Prince does. Bono does make up some lyrics, as is his way, and as much as I admire his ability to do so I find it doesn’t add any extra value to the song. Much more noteworthy is Princes guitar playing, and as the song increases in intensity Prince can be heard playing. It is unfortunate that as the song is increasing in intensity the recording is going the other way and becomes thin and muddy. I find myself turning it up loudly to try and catch the sound of Prince and even that is not enough.

Prince Bono 95 Pod

Bono departs and we get the Prince show we have been waiting for. Firstly, the briefest of People Get Ready (a couple of lines) and then The Jam. I sometimes lose interest in The Jam, I have heard it too often, this time is different as it is much shorter, and the band don’t over play their parts. Michael B gets a chant, and a few moments, and then Prince engages in some fret work that quickly brings us to the next song. It’s brief, I don’t know why, but it works for me.

We stay on a Larry Graham trip as the band groove on I Believe In You. That nice steady bass line and keyboard wheeze gives plenty for Prince to play over. I’m not overly fond of the singing, the playing is what it is all about for me, and especially the bass and guitar. Like the previous song it’s kept relatively short (by after show standards) and is a good song to get the crowd moving.

Glam Slam Boogie ups the stakes, and over the up-tempo groove Prince plays the best guitar of the night so far. Not scorching searing solos, but fast loose guitar that gets me excited to hear what comes next. What does come next is some crowd singing as the band swing into their work. I get a lot of pleasure out of the keyboard as it plays and I know for certain that had I been there I would be dancing my ass off. My brother would have been looking for the nearest exit. Prince tries to reclaim the song late in the piece, firstly calling to the crowd “What you singing for, I didn’t give you the cue” and then laying down some guitar work.

The recording, although far from perfect, has improved considerably by this point, and Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine sounds nice and funky to my ears (well, my right ear anyway) The song doesn’t contain any surprises, I don’t need them as it’s always a pleasure to hear Prince sing “get on up” as the band get tighter and tighter behind him. This is a great band, the more I hear them the more I appreciate them. I have been listening to them for years now, and I never get tired of this group of musicians, they are definitely one of the best Prince bands.

Prince 199495

The bass that starts Funky Design has that feel to it that I love so much, it’s really a shame the recording is below par. The introduction has me hooked from the start, and it’s even better as I know what’s coming. Prince spits and spins the lyrics in fine style, he sounds as if he is the moment, and the band slithers and swirls around him. The keyboard in particular has a wonderful nasty sound, and again I don’t want to belabour the point, but it is let down by the quality of the recording. All is forgiven as Prince lifts the intensity levels and his vocals in the latter part of the song are particularly impassioned. This band always does keyboards well, and there is plenty to love in the last few minutes, and after ten minutes I am still wanting more.

Things slow down for the first time in the evening as Johnny is the next song played. I always enjoy Johnny, the feeling is casual and it has an easy groove to it. The keyboard is once again to the fore and the hero of the song, along with my enthusiastic singing. Prince doesn’t sing much, it’s mostly a band groove, and I more than make up for him.

Feel Good is a close relative of Johnny and it slips easy into its groove straight after. The song isn’t too taxing, a verse, then the crowd chanting the chorus and before I know it, it’s over and Prince delivers a pop hit.

I am slightly surprised to hear The Most Beautiful Girl In The World next, I would not have thought it as after show fodder. That said, I do like it in this context and it does feel on another level from everything else in the evening. It has a brighter sound and I can feel it lifting my spirits as the band play. It’s not as bass and groove heavy as the other songs, yet I notice the keyboards still have a strong and most welcome presence. A surprised inclusion, it shows another side of Prince that I sometimes forget as I immerse myself in after shows from this era.

beautiful Girl

18 And Over is the one song of the night that I fall in love with right from the start. It should be a guilty pleasure, but I don’t care who knows it, this is the one. Dodgy lyrics aside, it has a seductive groove, and some snaky keyboards that swirl like smoke rings and leave me with that late night feel. I don’t feel the least bit self-conscious singing “18 and over, I want to bone ya” even though as I type it I realize how ridiculous it sounds. Prince makes a point of highlighting his “bone-ranger” line, on another night I might cringe, but today I am just enjoying it too much.

I am happy to say that (Lemme See Your Body) Get Loose! maintains this funky standard, and features extra percussion from James ‘McGoo’ Gregor. It doesn’t start great, things definitely pick up as the song goes on, and the band get funkier sounding to me, especially that ever present keyboard. Bustin Loose is a nice fit as a coda, there is lots of keyboard and bass to getting me grooving along. This part of the show feels like a proper after show with plenty of band and audience having a good time, no longer a series of songs but rather a great groove to move to.

The best is yet to come, as we get a Santana medley. I always like these and this one is no exception. Princes guitar sounds just right and one can hear how much he has studied Santana. The recording is too quiet for my ears, but I can still hear Prince is playing with great gusto. He does pull back and let the keyboards add some lightness to the proceedings, the guitar groove is never from away though and you can hear Prince chugging away in the background before he comes to the fore again for a further solo. The next solo is the show stopper for me, I have heard it before and I find it timeless.

Prince 1995 guitar

Typically, Prince finishes the show “with a ballad” -Get Wild. Normally I highly rate Get Wild, in this case I think it’s lacking due to the recording levels, it never reaches the brain crushing intensity that I anticipate. The song has a feeling of finality as Prince plays with the crowd and the groove for the last night. There is the expected call and response, and plenty of jumping as the band hit their straps. It’s fitting that it’s the keyboard riff I can hear most as the song plays, the keyboards have been outstanding all night long. The show ends with a last hurrah from the drummer and an enthusiastic “thank You” from Prince.

This show in the scheme of things hangs in the balance. It was a good show, a great performance, and the novelty factor of having Bono guest on the first song. On the negative side, the recording didn’t do it justice. That is no slight against the taper, I am eternally grateful to anyone who has the courage to record a show like this for all of us to enjoy, however the sound doesn’t serve the band well, and there are key moments and performances that I don’t hear in their full glory. This is one show that I know as a super fan I will come back to again, especially as 1994/1995 always fascinates me, I just don’t think this is the one to convince my brother though.

Thanks again
Hamish

(I just noticed, this show almost exactly 21 years old. Where did the years go?)

Prince 1995a94

Paradiso Amsterdam 1995

I don’t know what it is in the water in the Netherlands, but to me it seems the Dutch are the most mad music fans in the world. And I am not just talking Prince here, almost any band or musician I follow, there seems to be a legion of Dutch fans following. They are all very knowledgeable and passionate, and that is further emphasized in the gig that I am listening to today. An after show at Paradiso, Amsterdam from 1995, this is one show I would have loved to have been at. Sure, I feel that about many shows I listen to, but this one in particular strikes a chord with me. The crowd are very much part of the show, and listening to it I get the sense that the audience understand exactly what Prince is about at this time, and support him all the way. The setlist, crowd, performance are all excellent, the only item missing from my checklist is that sadly this is an audience recording- I would have loved for this to be a soundboard, but I am grateful that it even exists. As soon as I finish the time machine in the garage this where I am heading, but until then listening to this recording is as good as it gets.

March 26 1995, Paradiso Amsterdam

I did warn you the crowd are very much part of this one, and right from the start we have them singing the “ow we ow” chant. It ends soon enough as the gentle chords of People Get Ready begin the show. It’s a smooth seductive sound and the soft “owww owwww” of Prince draws me right in. There is just a touch of organ underneath, and an audience led handclap for accompaniment. It’s delicate, with the simple chords of the guitar over top, before Prince sings the opening couple of lines. And this is where it all comes to a sudden noisy stop, and the entire band jump in and everything is turned to 11.

Prince1995

First up we get The Jam. I have heard so many of these over the years, and I know exactly what to expect – Prince introducing the band and them each playing a part. Normally I have no feeling for it one way or another, but this one is excellent and has me very enthused. Although the recording is less the perfect, there is a nice squelching sound, and some crisp guitar. Prince immediately gets the audience chanting “Prince is dead” and the agenda for the rest of the show is set. Mr Hayes plays a full sounding organ solo, predictably I think it’s much too short. Tommy Barbarella gets introduced on the piano and he also plays a nice funky electric break. Prince sounds very happy and confident, you can hear it in his voice. He introduces Mayte, I can’t hear much musically, but there is plenty of crowd noise. And speaking of the crowd, next we have them clapping a slightly more complicated beat than you might expect, but they do add to the fun of the evening. The audience is very passionate, and loudly chant “Go Michael” as Michael B plays his break. There is very much a party and family feeling to this one. Last, but not least Prince gets to Sonny T, and his bass solo is even more electric sounding. The band meld together very tightly after this, and already I am ranking them as one of Princes best bands.

Get Wild follows close behind and has some nice chunky piano as it starts. The recording lets us down a little here, Princes voice sounds somewhat distant, but the organ and drum still sound strong. Mayte sings her piece, but to be honest I can’t make out what she is saying. There is a large cheer soon after, and I can’t even begin to guess what is happening. Things ease back somewhat after the chorus, and Prince leads the audience in “play that motherfucking bass” Again another chorus, and more cheering from the crowd. They really are all over this recording like another band member. Mr Hayes plays an organ break which swirls but still sounds as strong as could be. The song follows a similar format to the previous number, with each band member being called on to play a break. Prince encourages the audience with “We just come from London, are you as wild as them?” and then there is a brief short guitar shot from the man himself. There is a humorous moment as there is a chant of “Go Mayte, go Mayte” before Prince says “oh, you’ll just gonna run the show huh? I ain’t got nothing to do?” before he calls for Mayte to do her thing. It’s a cool moment and well received. Sonny T then proceeds to get wild himself, playing something that sounds like a whining animal. I promise, it would have sounded great on a soundboard recording. The song ends with an “on the one”, before a short reprise with Michael B and the band closing it out.

Prince1995c

I find Princes choice to cover Jailhouse Rock an interesting one. After Elvis was dismissed by Public Enemy a few years earlier with “Elvis was a hero to most, but he didn’t mean shit to me” Princes cover seems oddly out of step with the mood of the times. Maybe he was staking a claim for the music and song himself, but it does place him outside the feelings on the street at that time. His cover itself is pretty decent, Prince does a nice rasp in his voice, and the guitars and band swing along behind, giving it a slight rockabilly edge that harkens back to some of his material in the early 80s. It’s not as much of a stretch as a cover as I may have first thought. It is only a couple of minutes long, so I don’t get too long to over think it, before a flurry of guitar leads us into the next song.

Zannalee also has a swing to it, and this time the guitars are even louder with a buzz saw sound. I am not sure if the distortion is the guitars or the recording, but it doesn’t affect it too much. Again Princes vocal is lost a shade in the music, but the music is so good that that is irrelevant. As you might expect there is plenty of guitar work from Prince, and the band know how to play with him, all in all it’s a tight performance.

This band is all about The Undertaker. Listening to this I understand what Prince and the NPG are trying to achieve. The song starts, but Prince delivers a speech about gun control, and then we get the song proper. The song begins with a quiet, but heavy sounding groove. The bass is sounding great, and some funky but light guitar brightens it. As Prince sings he has the audience tracking along with a sweet sounding “Mercy” The songs rumbles along in this way for sometime, but its never boring sounding. When Prince returns to sing about the undertaker I wonder which way the song will go, but very quickly it begins a long guitar solo. I can’t describe it here, but its one I love. It’s not too fast, it’s long, and it’s got an excellent tone. I am caught off guard when the guitar solo ends and then the song a few seconds later. This is a great song that needs to be heard more often.

Prince1995a

The funk goes up several notches next when Prince hits us with Funky Design. This is one of Princes heavy funk periods, and this song just oozes it. Prince does rap, but it’s not terrible. The bass and the keys create a great funk sound and its this that I enjoy most. I get the feeling that this recording doesn’t really do the song justice. The recording is average at best, but the song still manages to sound great. There is a great false end midsong, just as I was thinking it was over Prince comes back with an enthusiastic and passionate response. There is even a sizzling guitar break which never quite boils over but always hints at more. All in all there is a lot of noise and fury, but sadly the sound is all mixed up on the recording, and I can’t quite hear all the pieces as clearly as I would like. The organ sounds strong as does the guitar, but Princes vocals are a little distorted.

The next song starts off innocuously enough with the drum beat and the crowd clapping along while chanting “Go Mayte”, before Prince gets on the microphone with a “ooooowww pussy control” Its more laid back than on record and the intro is drawn out with some nice organ and rubbery sounding bass. Prince then stops to tell the crowd that the song is too nasty, before once again beginning the song again. As he raps his way through the verses he stays with the laid back vibe, he is quite casual in his delivery. Even the chorus fails to raise any pulses. And this is in no way a criticism of the song, despite the recording limitations of the recording it’s still very enjoyable. The fun levels increase as the song goes along, and near the end of the song there is some great instrumentation and the crowd comes onboard with plenty of claps and singing. There is plenty of room for the organ to play a piece, before Prince pulls it back with a call of “kick drum” and we get an excellent rhythm guitar break- just the sort of thing that I lap up.

The kick drums comes at us again and Prince drives us into a brief instrumental, lead by the chant of “can’t get enough, of that funky stuff”. The action is once again up-tempo and funky as hell for this one. The piano comes to the fore with some great runs. I thought it was going to race through at this pace, but after a minute the band stops to give the crowd and few moments of chanting “can’t get enough of that funky stuff”. They come back to the song, this time with the guitar getting minute to play. It has a similar sound and style to the pianos break, and I am impressed the band and their tightness. The instrumental runs for another couple of minutes, it’s fast paced, and has great playing.

I hadn’t heard Johnny for a long time when I pulled out this recording. It’s better than I remember, the band play slow but still have a nice swing to their sound. Once again there is no keeping the audience out of this one and there is a chant at the beginning of “N…P….G in the mother-fing house.” I love Princes vocals, he sounds cheeky as he sings this, and it adds to the overall feeling of a fun. There is a lot of personality throughout this show, and as I said before it definitely gives me a good sense of what it would have been like to be there. The songs takes in a nice organ break, followed by a mellow smoky guitar break before we return for some more keyboards. Nothing is hurried and the band sound like they could play for days. Prince’s guitar playing is soulful and has just as much character as his singing on this song. The song ends with another keyboard solo, but it feels like it could have grooved along for hours like this.

Prince1995b

There is a pause in the music next as Prince takes his time to talk to the audience. He reminds them the new album ‘Exodus’ is coming-out next week, then tells them Prince is dead, and the only ones who think he is alive is the record company. This leads to a very funny moment when the crowd breaks into a loud chant of “Fuck Warner bros”. It’s made even funnier to me by the fact that they chant it like this, rather than ‘Warner brothers’. Prince seems to take great delight in it too, and asks the crowd if he could bring the president of Warner Bros next time so they can do that for him.

Endorphin Machine begins with a rush, and there is no denying the energy of the guitar playing as Prince launches into it. The band plays behind with plenty of power and passion, and for the first time in the recording I forget the quality of sound and loose myself completely in the song. I don’t often think of this band as being a rock outfit, but rock they certainly do here. After Tommy Barbarellas solo we get a short guitar break from Prince, before the song drops a notch for his spoken break. The guitar and band are right on the money when they come back in and its intensity level that carries us through the last minute of the song. An excellent performance of a keystone song of that period.

There is plenty of guitar sound and noodling next before the Prince says “I’m hungry, is there any peaches in the house?’ There is another minute or so of talking as Prince brings a couple of audience members up on stage to dance. There is plenty of anticipation before the roar of Peach finally begins. As is expected this one is all Prince and his guitar. The opening verse is quickly dealt with and the guitar takes over. It sounds like a lot of fun, but again I am frustrated by the quality of the recording. Normally audience recordings don’t bother me too much, but this gig sounds so good I would love to hear it in a better quality. The playing is fast and furious, but still the crowd gets a moment to sing along. It’s not the funkiest of songs, but it does close the show in a spectacular way. The show ends, naturally enough, with the crowd chanting “ow we ow”

As far as recordings go, this one isn’t the greatest. But if ever there was an after show I wanted to be at, it would be this one. You can keep your Small Clubs and Le New Mornings, this is the one show from the last 30 years that I’d most want to be at. The set list and playing is everything I could ask for, and I do get the sense that everyone in the building was on the same wave length as Prince. Like I said at the start, as soon as my time machine is finished, this is where I’m heading.

Take care
Hamish

2 Funky 1995

I promised that this week I would look at something a little funkier. I pulled the tape that had Chicken Grease written on it, put on closer inspection it was a compilation tape of various concerts, so I have selected something else. I pulled a CD called 2 Funky, I assume with a title like that it would live up to its name. Turns out it was a great choice, a Gold Experience concert from 1995. An audience recording- lets take a listen and see what we have got.

March 5th 1995, Wembley Arena London.

First off, Wembley Arena is notorious for having dreadful sound. It’s just another echo filled box. The performance here doesn’t seem to suffer from this too much; overall sound is quiet good, the only limitations being that it is an audience recording. I am definitely going to treat myself next week and we will take a look at a nice sound board recording.

The gig opens with Princes voice “Prince is dead. Long live the New Power Generation” The crowd cheers in approval and we are into the first song, Endorphin Machine. Like a lot of people I am a fan of this song, and I really hope that one day I can see it live. It has all the elements of a great opener. It has a big riff and a get up and go energy to it. Prince and his guitar make an instant impression with this song. The band sounds into it, although I can barely here Tommy Barbarella through the first song. The song is played as it appears on the album, and the crowd is obviously hyped by it.

Gold3
After Princes screams and guitar howl have faded from the song the NPG move into a song, simply called The Jam. It is exactly as the title says, it’s a nice funky jam. It’s hard to tell from the recording, but it sounds like one of the songs that if you were there it would have a great groove to move to. It is one of those “Introduce the band” type songs, so each member of the band gets a chance to shine and a name check. Mr Hayes provides a very tasty organ solo – in fact all the keyboards on this recording are outstanding from both players. Tommy Barbarella follows up with an equally good piano solo. The piano and organ drive this jam while Prince plays some funky guitar underneath. There is a brief drum break for Mr B to have his moment (no over the top drum solo, just a drum break) then Sonny T is introduced on the bass. There is no second guitarist to support Prince, so any guitar sound is him and him alone. Listening to this I suddenly realized what a really great band these guys were. I feel they are slightly underrated- too many people get caught up in hype about the Revolution. But this NPG configuration was an outstanding group as well, and need more recognition.

Next the very distinctive intro for Shhh. There is absolutely no mistaking it. Already I feel anticipation what for it to slow down and settle into the song. And it doesn’t fail to deliver, Princes vocals are spot on. By now the sound has improved from the opening couple of songs, and Princes vocals are clear and strong. A lot of the distortion on the instruments has improved by now too, and this song is sounding great. A good thing too, considering its one of my favorites. Princes guitar solo has a very nice tone to it, and this song is an early highlight for me.

This recording was labeled Funky, and its just about to live up to its name. The band hits their straps and delivers up Days Of Wild. It doesn’t quite have the punch I had expected, but I put this down to the recording itself rather than the band, or the venue. The bass is outstanding, and its just a shame I can’t hear it better here. Its all there, I just can’t hear enough of it! Prince’s flow when he raps isn’t as good as I have heard on othe recordings of this song, there are better versions out there. I still get a thrill when Prince delivers the line “Oh by the way, I play bass guitar” and the bass kicks off. A piece of music magic. The crowd get right behind the sing a long section “Na, na ,na” (Is it Na na na? I am not sure how to type it)

Another thing that struck me about Prince at this stage of his career was he throwing around a lot of MF’s etc. There was a lot more profanity at this point of his career. Obviously he has renounced all that now, but even early in his career he wasn’t cursing as much as he did mid-nineties. I wonder if it was part of his dispute with WB, was he trying to making a point?

The band pauses and gives the crowd a chance to continue chanting a bit more.
Then we are into Now. Again I find myself thinking about the bass on this song. Its killer again. I am really enjoying it. Prince’s vocals are Ok, but when the band chimes it for the chorus they are very quiet, and hard to hear above the noise of the instruments. This sounds like a fun part of the concert, the crowd can be heard whooping and yelling throughout the song. It seems everyone is having a real good time. Prince says “I want somebody to scream” and the crowd is more than willing to oblige. There is a break down, and Prince leads the crowd through a chant of “This about the Freaks”. There is then a small chant of “go Mayte”, I can only assume she is dancing centre stage at this point. The guitar drums and bass are playing quiet, with organ stabs. Prince sings a line of Sly Stones ‘Babies Makin babies’, and the groove continues. Prince calls for just the kick drum and over the solitary beat leads the crowd chanting “clap your hands somebody, somebody clap your hands” It really does sound like the crowd are having a great time. Prince starts singing It takes Two. This really is a classic long funky Prince jam.

Gold1
It then kicks straight into Sex Machine. Its quicker tempo then the previous song, and the bass is really cooking,although to be fair, so is the whole band. I said it before and I will say it again, THIS BAND IS HOT! The bass leads the song, with Prince playing some very clean crisp solos over the top. And he is playing so quick and clean. My ears love this stuff. There are no vocals, just the guitar, and the tone of it for this song is just perfect. The crowd starts to cheer at something, although I couldn’t begin to guess at what might be happening. It is something visual rather than audible. The crowd starts the chant “Oh we Oh” and then there is some call and response with Prince with “Get up” “Get on up” This gig is a party! But this stage I had completely forgotten that it was just a poor audience recording, I am just loving the music. I am completely in that world.

We change direction with the next song, and move back to a pop concert when Prince plays The Most Beautiful Girl In The World. It sounds different to me, because he doesn’t sing it in the usual falsetto. It’s his more natural sounding voice, and it changes the whole song for me. I actually enjoy it more. It’s a really cool version. Of course Prince leaves the chorus for the crowd to sing, he has them in the palm of his hand by this stage. There is one very nice section, when he sings “How can I get through days, when I can’t get through hours” and everything stops except the ticking clock at that section. Nothing happens for about a minute, then the band pick up right where they left off. Sounds great, I have heard it done a several gigs, and the band is always right on point. They do it again later in the song, this time the stop isn’t for quite so long. Prince is just showing off, this band is really something else.

The spoken introduction to Pussy control by Prince has me crying with laughter. His opening lines are “This song is about part of the female anatomy, part of the anatomy that is used to control us” Hilarious. The crowd is then instructed to please sing along with “Ahhhhh, Pussy control” He then follows up by saying “Some might not subscribe to such nastiness, but I don’t give a fuck” Its all in the delivery, but trust me, its funny. He also makes comment about his trouble with Warner Bros, he can play what he chooses at concert, but cannot choose about his albums. The song finally begins, and it’s played pretty much exactly as it sounds on record. Again it sounds like a lot of fun at the gig.

Prince Performs At Wembley In London
Letitgo has a very nice groove to it. Its slower and brings the party down a little. But still very danceable. I am sure if I was there I would have danced the whole night. Letitgo slips past very fast, but it definitely had a good groove.

Now things really easy off as Pink Cashmere makes an appearance. I was somewhat surprised to hear it at this gig, it seemed like a change in direction from what had come before, but then again that is exactly what a Prince gig is about. Although I like this song, there isn’t really too much interesting about it, its pretty inoffensive. There is a nice swing to the organ after the first verse, then its back to standard. Actually the organ is very prominent throughout the gig, and that’s no bad thing. It really adds to the sound and fills it out. Prince addresses the crowd a lot at this gig, and he does so again here. I can’t think of a tour before or since where he has spoken directly to the crowd so much. I like to see him engage the audience directly like this, a more human side of him on display.

Loose is loose, and fast. It’s as you expect it would be at a gig like this. The bass bubbles along just nicely, I just wish it was more prominent, it does get overwhelmed by the other instruments in this song. This song is dominated by the keyboards, both in the verses as well as the chorus.

After this there is a considerable break, I assume the band take a minute to catch their breath and maybe a costume change.
We start of slowly after this with Prince delivering a delicate version of A Case Of You. Its mostly vocal, his guitar is barely distinguishable. It’s a beautiful performance, and I would love to hear this in a pristine recording. There is not too much more to say about this, except its great!

I Love You In Me follows this, in keeping with the quiet mood. The band enters gently, again Princes vocals are very much the centre piece. He sounds great; it’s just a shame about the lyrics. I like the song, but the lyrics always make me cringe. The crowd is slowly clapping along throughout, and when Prince says “I love you, do you love me?” it elicits a loud cheer from the crowd. There is some sweet guitar near the end of the song, and its fits perfectly with the music.

I am not sure about Proud Mary. Obviously it’s a Prince favorite; I have several recordings of him playing it. I like the playing on it, but the sampled horns are too much for me, and I think maybe it would be better without them. The straight piano and organ sound really great, and the band more away from a straight performance and into a jam with it, and it really sounds better then when he plays it straight.

Keeping with the Mary theme, the next song is Mary Don’t You Weep. Phew, a blues jam, Prince really is giving us a little but of everything at this gig! It’s not the greatest version of this I have heard, but I am very glad it made an appearance. This gig is eventful. I want to say the guitar playing is very good, but I find myself thinking that at every gig I listen to! So, suffice to say, the guitar playing is up to his usual standard. And as it is for this whole recording, he gets the crowd to sing along with “Mary don’t you weep” One of the things I have enjoyed most about this gig, and it came as a surprise to me, is how good Tommy Barbarella piano playing is. Again, on this song it shines. Prince plays guitar around the piano, and again it sounds very tight. The song ends with Prince talking more about his war with Warners, says he trying to work it out as he goes.

Get Wild is introduced, but there is a long pause before it starts. Prince speaks to the crowd about the song for sometime. Then he kicks it off with “In England tonight we are going to Get Wild” Half way through the song Mayte speaks/sings a little. Its doesn’t add much, but it’s a nice touch. The audience gets another opportunity to join in, and again it sounds like a party. There is a sax solo played on keyboard by Tommy Barbarella, and it had my jaw hitting the floor. It sounded awesome. I had to check twice to see if it was really him or not. Definitely it is worth checking out. The song is broken down again and the crowd chants “Get wild, play the M-Fing bass. Each band member is given another chance to shine before the song ends.

Billy Jack Bitch is played straight. The bass is a little more swinging, but overall it sounds exactly as it does on record. The audience is again in on it right through. I am wouldn’t be surprised it they all went home with no voice left.

The gig closes with Prince thanking the crowd and Playing Gold. There is no denying that Gold is a great song, but it’s just not for me. It sounds good here, but there is something too polished about it for my taste. There is a very loud explosion to be heard at the end of the first verse, I can only assume that it was some sort of explosion to shower gold confetti over everyone. It sounded loud on the recording, it must have been massive at the gig! At this point Gold is the perfect way to close the gig. I am sure that everyone at the gig was buzzing as the final notes faded away.

I was wondering about this gig as I pulled it out to listen to. The setlist looked very intriguing, but I was slightly put off by it being an audience recording. I needn’t have worried, it more than delivered. It wasn’t until later that I realized that he played none of his 80’s hits at this gig, and yet it was a real pleasure to listen to. And I was only listening at home, to my mind the people at the concert sounded like they were having a great party. This one was buried at the back of my vault, unloved and barely listened to, but now I think I will keep it out for a while and give it a few more listens. Overall a lot of fun.

Thanks for joining me again, next time I am going to treat my ears, and spin something from the soundboard. I am open to any suggestions to what I should listen to, so drop me a comment here or on facebook.

-Hamish

Please share if you care