Since Prince has passed away many people have come forward with examples of his secret philanthropy. He was active for a long time behind the scenes giving to various causes and helping those in need. Not all his philanthropy was secret though, and there are examples where he quite publicly put his name and efforts behind a cause.His Baltimore concert for Freddie Gray is a fine example of Prince giving to the community. He was always socially conscious and in the case of Freddie Gray Prince put all his efforts into creating a dialogue and understanding. We have the Baltimore charity show, the song “Baltimore” and closer to home Prince had his ‘dance rally 4 peace’ – where attendees were asked to wear something gray. I plan on writing about the Baltimore concert soon, but first I want to start with this ‘dance rally 4 peace’. Although it was available as a stream on the Prince3EG soundcloud, I still consider it a bootleg. A few bootleg labels have put it out, and if they consider it fair game then so do I. The set that Prince plays is only short, even more so on the edited version that was put online. It is still a great listen, and the shorter concert makes Princes message more to the point. This is no sprawling concert, it is short and sweet with the main emphasis on the message.
3rd May 2015 (a.m.) Paisley Park
The title “Chaos And Disorder” gives some sense to the feeling in the streets, but the performance itself is anything but, it is orderly and highly polished. With the swish of the guitars sweeping back and forth behind him, Prince is stillness at the centre that draws all the attention. The guitars bay to be let loose, but the band keep it all on a tight leash, making for a performance that has its own tension within the song. That tension is released as Prince finally gives in to his rock impulses and plays an ascending solo that hints at anger without ever becoming pure rage.
It is a Hendrixesque “Dreamer” that brings further poignancy to the rally. The lyrics lay out Princes message early on before the whine of his guitar brings anguish and pain to the music. Prince starts with a few deft touches, then adds flesh to the music as he builds upon his foundation. The music folds back under him later, and the second part of the song becomes a mood piece with keyboards replacing the angry howl of the guitar with their soft weeping. It not as cohesive as one might expect and the song does lose its impact as it becomes inconstant. As much as I like the music, it was a better moment and suited the concert theme when it came as an angry punch in the opening minutes.
The sharpness returns to the show with a blazing version of “Guitar”. It is light, yet the guitar attack brings a sense of urgency to the concert. Donna matches Prince for guitar heroics, her guitar coming as a stronger voice as the song progresses. It becomes a twin guitar attack in the final minute, the best moment of the song as they cross swords and trade riffs.
Donna is equally to the fore with “Plectrumelectrum”. It has the all the ingredients for a song I might like, but I have never been able to warm to it. This version is an exception as it has a sternness about it that I haven’t heard before. While the main riff spins and revolves without going anywhere, it is the guitar breaks that see the song move across the rock landscape with enough heaviness to keep most guitar aficionados satisfied.
For me, the highlight of this short set comes with “The Whole Of The Moon”. It may not be the version you remember from The Waterboys, but it is just as exhilarating as Prince bends the song to his style and strengths. Song writer Mike Scott has explicitly said that the song was not written about Prince, but the rumor persists with the lyrics sketching out a figure who could well be Prince. Lyrics such as “I pictured a rainbow, you held it in your hands, I had flashes, but you saw the plan, I wandered out in the world for years, while you just stayed in your room,I saw the crescent, you saw the whole of the moon”, speak of a Prince type figure, someone who operates in another time in place, dedicated to his own private world. Prince takes these lyrics and adds to the myth by neatly reversing the subject, the I of the song becoming the you and vice versa. Thus the opening couplet becomes “You pictured a rainbow, I held it in your hands, you had flashes, but I saw the plan”. It makes him the subject of the song in an instant, and although it may be viewed as egotistical, it certainly personalizes the song. What brings the song into Princes stable though isn’t the lyrics, it’s the wonderful popping and snapping bass that he furnishes the song with. Prince can be heard playing bass on plenty of bootlegs, but trust me, this is one of the best. It is the driving force of the song as it shakes beneath the music, an earthquake shake that forces you out of your comfort zone as it pops and cracks, the bass rising out of the bottom of the song as cracks across the soundscape. The song title may belong to The Waterboys, but the bass and shake is pure Prince, reminiscent of “Days Of Wild” at it’s funkiest.
The bootleg ends at this point as Prince thanks the crowd and the DJ takes over. Although short, this bootleg is just as good as any two or three hour show that Prince has played. It is a rock show, but the final bass playing by Prince provides more than enough funk for those that like it like that. This is one bootleg that I can see myself coming back to again and again, often shows are too long for me to enjoy in a single sitting, whereas this bootleg could neatly cover a car ride. The show is perfectly paced, its professionally recorded, the music is sensational, whats not to like about it? The only negative would be when we consider that it is edited down, missing about 10 minutes worth. “Crimson and Clover” is missing and “The Whole Of The Moon” is edited, but what we are left with is extremely satisfying. This might just be the perfect show to convert your non Prince fans with.
See you next time