The Metro, Boston 1986

I was intending on writing about the second half of the 2008 bootleg that I took a listen to last week, but I have been overtaken by events in the fast moving world of Prince bootlegs. The last couple of weeks has seen the Eye records release of two great packages, the 1986 show at Boston, and “Rainmaker” that covers a some well known concerts of the Purple Rain era. Of the two I am more interesting in the 1986 concert as the other concerts have been circulating for some time in a variety of guises. I have audience recordings of the Boston concert, but I was excited to hear it in soundboard quality. As Prince himself once said “All that glitters, ain’t gold,” and this is true with this soundboard recording. Yes, it is a soundboard recording, but that doesn’t mean that it is perfect. There is quality issues (especially on the first disc) and to my ears the tape speed isn’t quite right. The first disc in particular sounds slow, it’s most noticeable with the opening notes that immediately sound off. Again, the second disc is better, but still not quite perfect. I may sound pedantic on this point, but when you listen to as many bootlegs as I do, then you tend to notice little things like this, and it is worth noting. As always, there are positives – it is a soundboard recording we haven’t heard before, and even as it is, it is still a fine document of one of my favorite tours, the hit n run tour of 1986. That is something worth celebrating and I am quite prepared to put aside my bootleg snobbery for a couple of hours and wallow in this glorious show.

3rd April, 1986. The Metro, Boston

There is no surprises with the setlist early on. Prince doesn’t deviate from any of the other shows of the era, and anyone who has been listening to these bootlegs over the years will know exactly what to expect. The flighty and twitching “Around The World In A Day”  moves under the feet with ever changing soundscapes as an ethereal flute opening gives way to some Byrds-esque guitar before the sound unfolds with Prince’s chorus bringing the song to a firmer ground. Its a kinetic opener, even with the slight sound issues I previously mentioned.

The sound becomes bolder with “Christopher Tracy’s Parade.” There is more of the band to be heard, and even with muddled sound the recording captures the energy of the performance. What captures my ear the most is the horn section, here fully integrated into the band and providing early impetus. The song never fully develops though (due to the recording) and the remaining impression of it is the organ solo that is provided, one presumes, by Prince.

The sound strips back for “New Position,” the rhythm section outstanding with their funk and bump. Bobby Z and Brown Mark are often overlooked visually, but they more than make up for it their musical contributions, and this song is an early indication of how much their input makes a Prince concert what it is. Prince himself makes his mark, the one lyric that sounds very clear is when he asks Jerome to sing “P.U.S.S.Y.” It can be heard on album, but here is is very bold and obvious, it is the loudest moment on the song.

There is time for “I Wonder U,” although it doesn’t match anything heard in the first handful of songs. The crowd are bought back into the concert with “Raspberry Beret.” It’s not quite the riotous celebration heard on other bootlegs though. The crowd are present, but not to the same extent as other concerts. The payoff is that Prince sings most of the lines himself, something I greatly appreciate and enjoy.

I wish I could say the “Alexa De Paris” stands alone as a ornate monument surrounded by these slighter pop songs. However, the recording is again muddled with its mix, and although the individual parts sound great, when they all come together they don’t gel. There is some fierce-some guitar to be heard, but it is very low in the mix. If it was alone out front it would be scorching, but as it is it is no more than a smolder in the background, threatening to burst into flame but never reaching the point of combustion.

The is an outstanding start to “Controversy,” with scratch guitar to die for and the keyboards playing with a robo-funk coldness. The rest of the song sounds thin, and it has a weak ending with Princes overplayed “Where’s my cigarettes” shtick. All is forgiven with “Mutiny.” From the opening seconds it is has my nerves jangling, the music connecting my ears to my feet as my brain screams “dance!” The song itself would be enough, but when the sizzling saxophone of Eric Leeds is thrown into the mix, well then, it’s at that point that it becomes the epitome of Prince and the funk he was peddling at the time. Eric Leeds practically bursts into flames as he plays, and Prince does nothing to extinguish this fire as he has the band chant “St Paul, punk of the month” as Wendy and Lisa give clues to the hardcore with their “Dream Factory” chorus. The song is a tour de force for the extended Revolution; the rest of the concert and bootleg are irrelevant, this song alone is all you need as it covers all that was good and great about Prince and this band.

The following four songs maintain this thrill of excitement. “How Much Is That Doggie In The Window,” “Lady Cab Driver,” “Automatic,” and “D.M.S.R” come in quick fire succession, increasing the tempo of the show and laying the ground work for what will unfold next.

It is “The Dance Electric” that comes next, and from the title alone you know this is going to be something special. Needless to say, it matches Mutiny for funkiness, and upstages it in raw, unfiltered intensity. It has a deep funk in its groove, and Prince injects impassioned guitar into the vein, giving the song an uncontrollable rush and head-spinning high. This is one of the great performances of this song on bootleg, an instant addiction the first time you hear it.

There is the inevitable come down in the form of “Under The Cherry Moon.” Its other worldliness is heightened as it is coming directly after “The Dance Electric,” and as a contrast it is isn’t just a come down, it’s a crash. I rate it highly, but I would have preferred to have it somewhere else rather than directly after “The Dance Electric.”

I don’t know whats going on with “Anotherloverholenyohead,” but Prince’s vocals are almost inaudible for the first verse. However, Wendy and Lisa are enthusiastically loud and the keyboard can be heard dominating the sound. This is another song where the sound quality is less than stellar, unfortunately a recurring issue. There are positives though, Lisa is enthralling with her piano break, everything else disappears as she plays, the world turning on her breathtaking feel for the keys.

“Soft And Wet” comes from another world, sonically and historically. It still proudly wears the disco coat of the era it was born in, and is shameless in the way it sparkles and glitters in this show. Dr. Fink’s solo is particularly nostalgic, and for a few minutes I forget this is 1986 as Prince and the band recreate the brown and orange world of the late 70s.

Prince stays in the era with “I Wanna Be Your Lover” which performs the same trick on steroids. Everything “Soft And Wet” was, “I Wanna Be Your Lover” is, times five. It is stronger, funkier, and forceful throughout, not just suggesting you get up and dance but roughly shaking you to your feet and dragging you to the dance floor. The real action happens in the second half of the song, as the groove moves from the dance floor to a dark corner of the room for some nastiness. Even with the gleam of the horns, there is a dirtiness that can’t be shaken – definitely a recommendation.

“Head” leads us further down this path, the music becoming darker and murkier as Prince spreads a layer of sleaze across the performance. The song lives up to its name, but there is no climax, just more nastiness and Dr Fink adds his own smutty solo before the the scratch guitar hints at all sorts of unmentionable things. It would be the most sexual part of the show, if not for Prince talking about Morris Day and chopping down the Oak tree. This takes me out of the moment, and I do up my pants and move on to the next song.

There is an extended opening to “Pop Life” which gives us all a chance to regather our composure, before Prince delivers a sunny version of one of his greatest pop songs.It floats easy as a cloud, a feeling further enhanced with Eric Leeds’s flute solo that flutters and flits across the sky. It is far removed from the previous song, but it moves the concert forward and brings us back into the sun.

With Eric Leeds’s saxophone, and some slippery guitar to grease the wheels, “Girls And Boys” ticks two of the key boxes for what makes a great song. This is song is entirely representative of the era, it perfectly encapsulates the era and the music Prince was creating. Prince’s voice has a touch of arrogance, born of the confidence in the scope of work he has created,  while Eric Leeds’s saxophone ties the groove to the ground before taking flight late in the song. Elsewhere Dr.Fink, and the twin guitars of Wendy and Miko, give it all the funk you will ever need. It never reaches the same funky heights as some of the earlier songs, but it does neatly package up what the era was all about.

These two songs are the opening numbers of disc two, and they sound much better than the songs off the first disc. This standard is maintained for “Life Can Be So Nice.” It is a clean performance of the song, without being outstanding, but it does gain a few extra marks in my book with the improved sound quality. It doesn’t leap off the page as some of the other songs do, yet with all the instruments and vocals clearly heard it is a pleasant listen.

There is a buzz in the left speaker for the beginning of “Purple Rain,” that does initially detract from the moment. The rest of the opening is faultless however, especially the guitar of Prince that tiptoes briefly through the field of piano, creating a path for the listener to find their way into the song. It is this entrance and then the final exit that are the highlight of the song. The final guitar break sees Prince light up the darkness with its intensity, not just leading the listener through the final minutes but pushing them with an electrifying and emotive shriek.

I have never been completely sold on Prince’s performance of “Whole Lotta Shaking Going On,” and this concert isn’t going to change my mind. Its snappy and sharp, but undemanding and as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t add to the show and is unnecessary.

“A Love Bizarre” throws up the most interesting moment in the show. A minute into the song there is a glitch, one assumes with the drum machine or pads, and Bobby Z catches the moment with an effortless switch to a heavier, and more organic, live drum. The change comes in a split second, but one can clearly hear the change in the drum sound. The rest of the song lives up to other live performances from the year.  It may start with a veneer of pop over a funk groove, but it is the second half of the song where this veneer is stripped back to reveal what the song truly is, a hard-hitting beast of a song that gives Prince and the band plenty of time to ride the groove where ever they please. There is very little surprises to be heard, but as always the song delivers with its strident and bold riffs, highlighting the rhythm section of Brown Mark and Bobby, and newly acquired horn section.

It is a firestorm of guitar that opens “America.” The guitar has been prominent throughout the concert, and here Prince takes it to new levels with an electrifying performance. The guitar establishes a beachhead for the rest of the band to storm through, Eric Leeds and Atlanta Bliss immediately providing a twin horn attack that tears the song in half. The breakdown halts this attack, the momentum temporarily lost as Prince indulgently leads the crowd with some chants.The rhythm guitars bring some forward movement to the song, but it fails to live up to the opening salvo heard in the first five minutes.

Screams and shrieks greet “Kiss.” It does sound strangely flat on the recording, all the fizz and pop is missing. An appearance of the wooden leg doesn’t help, but the guitar break brings a welcome surge of energy, and the song sounds more lively after its appearance. The final coda restores my enthusiasm for the song, an element of fun is introduced and this brings a lightness to the song that serves it well.

The concert ends with a intricate rendition of “Love or $.” It is a monochrome and highly manicured performance, highlighted by the soundboard recording. The horns are again high in the mix, giving a hint of sparkle to the intertwining sounds that can be heard. The song never bursts out of the tight cocoon that the band weaves around it, often threatening to break out in a flutter of color it instead stays tight in the pocket until the very end.

Ignore any negative comments I may have made about the sound quality and take this show for what it is – a soundboard recording of Prince and The Revolution at their very best. This is only the first show after the Parade warm-up at First Ave, but the band is already firing on all cylinders as memories of Purple Rain rapidly vanish in the rear view mirror. I wouldn’t go so far as to give this a five star rating, but it is a concert and bootleg that you need to hear. Indulge yourself and hunt it out.

Thanks again, next week I will tackle the other recent Eye release before I finally return to the 2008 show I previous started.



Oakland 2001

Today I will take a listen to a show from Oakland during the Hit N Run tour of 2001. I have already covered a show from the Hit N Run in San Jose from December 2000, and this one from just four months later is pretty similar. Despite a lot of the set list being the same, there are some differences, and I felt that the recording is worth listening to as well as the San Jose concert. Prince throws in just enough to make me want to give this one a spin too. So, if it does read similar to the San Jose concert, I apologize in advance. Some things are the same, and some things are different, such is life.

28 April, 2001 Oakland, California.

I am not a great fan of the prerecorded intros that Prince often uses. Yes, I do understand that it helps generate the energy and anticipation for the show to come, but in a way I find the snatches of songs are like spoilers for a TV show or movie. I feel its removes some of the surprises that may lie ahead. The intro here contains snippets of My Name is Prince, and just the barest of lines from Erotic City, both of which I would have loved to of heard in the main show, but don’t get played beyond this intro (now I’m the one giving spoilers!)

Prince 2001

The thrill of Uptown live has never left me. As soon as that drum rolls kicks of, and the signature guitar line plays I am like a 15 year old again. The quality of this recording is very good, and the song sounds just as good as it ever has. The mix is very strong, and Prince and his guitar are crystal clear in my speakers. He doesn’t sing too passionately, and I do get the sense that he is just going through the motions. In fact, when I listen carefully to the song, it sounds like the whole thing is played in this way, but I am too much in love with the song to really care.

Controversy has the excellent funky guitar again right to the fore. It’s a nice rendition we have here, the rest of the band and the keyboards are back in the mix and just like the previous song it’s mostly Prince and his guitar that we hear. And that’s no bad thing, as his singing and guitar playing are very crisp and clean. However the song is keep to a minimum and we quickly segue into Mutiny.

I have long been a fan of Mutiny, and have dozens of excellent recordings from various shows. This one doesn’t live up to any of those, sadly its missing that special X factor. The playing is excellent, as is the vocal performance, but there is an energy or passion missing from it. It’s a shame, as the recording is very good, just the performance at this stage isn’t up to the same level. Najee does get a couple of solos, but fails to add anything of real interest to it. There is a very fast and furious organ break just after which would have saved it all, if only it had have been longer. Again, I’m not criticizing the recording, or musicianship, but for me it’s just missing that little bit extra.

I enjoy The Work Pt 1 much more. Its live debut was only two weeks before this show, so to Prince and the crowd it’s still very much a new song. He seems to be feeling this one a little more than the previous songs and is more engaged. The song does meander just a fraction, but Mike Phillips does play a lovely clean guitar solo which for me is the high point of the song. Prince does sing over most of it, but my ears are very much focused on what Mike is playing.

Next comes Cream, and it’s played very smooth and clean, this band seems to have a good handle on this song and it plays to their strengths. Listening to a lot of recordings, I often don’t give Cream the time or attention it deserves, but here it has my full attention. Especially when Prince plays a nice solo on his guitar midsong, and it’s very much played in the ‘Prince tone’, it’s unmistakably his guitar sound. A very pleasant surprise to my ears, this song is the first time where I feel the show is drawing me in.

That feeling continues next as Little Red Corvette gets a nice long intro, with plenty of keys and a few howls from the backing singers. As most of you know, I could just listen to this opening refrain over and over, and this one is no different. When Prince does begin to sing it’s once again with a very good clean sound. He isn’t too engaged but his vocals are very crisp. The song is kept quite short from this point, but it’s not too bad, as the next song is a real treat to my ears.

Prince begins I Wanna Be Your Lover with a bold “Stop trying to front like you know my jams, you don’t know my songs” The rest of the song starts with Prince and the crowd alternating lines, before Prince takes over and delivers his classic falsetto. Of course the crowd knows every line, and you can hear them singing strongly in the background. The bass is nicely mixed on the recording, and I can hear it nicely bumping along in the left speaker. The song itself only runs for a couple of minutes, but it’s cool while it lasts.

Sexy Dancer next, and its sounding like it’s a good song for the crowd to get up and dance to. There is no singing to speak of, it’s all groove with the snare and bass keeping the groove going with some keys run over top. It’s very tight, and great to listen to, but once again it’s only a couple of minutes. But still, I enjoyed it while it lasted.

Prince 2001c

The kicking beat of Housequake begins next, and Prince lets it run for a minute before he hits us with “Tell me who in this house know bout the quake?” From here the rest of the band join in and I must say its sounds very cool. Najee isn’t strong, but his horn line does sound good. Sure there are better renditions I have heard, but Najee does his job well, and Mr. Hayes on the keys gives us some enjoyable lines. It’s got some new things for me to listen to, and I do like it all. There’s very little singing, just a nice groove and that beat that I will hear in my head for the rest of the day.

I am very happy that The Ballard of Dorothy Parker gets another airing at this show. The low key playing of the band and the disinterested singing of Prince really suit the downbeat feel of the song. My enthusiasm wanes a little when Najee begins to play, but the moment is saved by Mr. Hayes on the keys. The song spins off into an instrumental jam, with Madhouses Four thrown in as well as Talkin Loud And Saying Nothin. It fails to fire my enthusiasm, where on some other shows I enjoy Najee, here I find him lifeless and frankly a little boring. But the keyboard throughout is good, and gives me something else to focus on. It’s all nice, but not something I would be in a hurry to return to.

There is an interlude next where Prince speaks to the crowd about the NPG music club, and strangely I find myself enjoying his sentiments, even if I know that in the future he will shy away from the internet and such openness with his fans. It was a nice dream while it lasted, and I am reminded here of his idealistic vision.

This speech about record companies and NPG music club is followed with Someday We’ll be Free. The song sounds nice, but fails to engage me, as Prince himself doesn’t sing, and there is a lot of Najee in there. I am surprised how much I dislike Najee on this recording, as on the San Jose recording from four months previously I really enjoyed him, but at this show he seems to add very little. The song has a well intended sentiment, and the execution is good enough, buts it’s not the reason I come to a Prince show or am a Prince fan.

I am back on board as Prince sings U Make My Sun Shine. This is where the quality of the recording comes to the fore, as I can hear Prince vocals, and the backing singers just beautifully working together. The song has a silky smooth sound to it, and although this smooth sound isn’t really my cup of tea, I still appreciate and enjoy it here. There is the classic Prince spoken breakdown midsong, which is fun to listen to, without being outstanding. What is really good though is the next minute when Prince asks Mike to play the blues, and there is a minute of very sharp guitar playing from him. It’s nicely paced and has a beautiful clean tone to it. Prince returns for some more spoken lines, but by now I’m a little over it and it’s perhaps a bridge too far for my tastes. Najee gets half a minute to play, and now I am dangerously close to pushing the skip button. There is some Prince playing guitar, which as always I give my attention to, but really this portion of the show is a little drawn out for me.

The next part of the show is very interesting to me, and gives a good insight to Princes world at that time. Prince tells the crowd that he is happy to be in Oakland because that’s where Larry Graham is from. He then goes on to say “Sometime I think he is my best friend in the whole wide world”. He continues by telling the crowd that Larry Graham asked him if he ever tried a show without cussing, and told him he used those words for effect. Prince tells the crowd that those words from Larry messed with him and he decided that “It isn’t the words that make me funky, it’s the funk that makes me funk”. He then plays some real funky guitar which has me excited. He goes on to shout out some of the celebrities in the crowd that night, and is in good humor as he tells the crowd that he told Laurence Fishburne he could have free tickets if he told him the plot to the Matrix 2 and 3. It’s a nice break in the action and he goes on to ask for the house lights to be turned on so he can see the crowd.

Prince 2001b

Next we get a nice up-tempo I could never take The Place of Your Man. The up-tempo beat gets the show back on track after the lull of the last twenty minutes. It’s not a totally rocked out version, but Prince does play a good break, although this is very short before the breakdown. There is absolutely no complaint from my end though, as the breakdown gets played to the hilt, and there is some excellent guitar playing from Prince for the next couple of minutes. The breakdown has some interesting guitar runs from Prince, it’s more sharply and faster than some other breaks I have heard from him. Najee enters for a minute too, and although I have been generally negative towards him so far through the recording, he does redeem himself here as I love the variation from what is traditionally a very rocky song. I am waiting for Prince to return with his guitar coda, but instead it’s Najee who plays us through to the end of the song. Interesting, but not great.

We next hear Prince at the piano for the piano medley part of the show. This one follows what we heard at the San Jose show, but it’s a great selection of songs and there is no complaint from me for what we hear next. He begins by playing my long time favorite Do Me Baby. The piano playing is nicely under pinned by some organ and a soft beat. Prince starts with his trademark “owww” before gently singing the verses that we know so well. He pauses after the line “You want me just as much as I want you” and receives and appreciative cheer from the crowd. The song resumes with Prince singing relatively softly and sounding reserved in his delivery. Even a shriek or two can’t quite shake the feeling that he’s holding a lot back.

Scandalous too has this feeling about it, but that doesn’t prevent me from enjoying it immensely. Prince’s vocals are delicate, and the band provides some nice little stabs behind him. It doesn’t have the seductive power of the original, but it is well played. Again Najee comes on board for a solo, but it’s neither here nor there, and comes across as bland rather than inspirational. The drum seems to lack some pop to it, and I wonder if it’s the mix, or the performance.

There is plenty of Najee influence all over Diamonds and Pearls, and it begins with him playing before Prince vocal lines begin. It’s easy to dismiss it as nice but boring, but I do enjoy the half minute we get here. Prince sings only the first verse before we move on to the next song.

I was looking forward to hearing The Beautiful Ones when I saw it on the setlist, and it doesn’t disappoint. The sound seems to change during the song, and I wonder if it’s the recording, or if my headphones weren’t quite plugged in right earlier. But the recording does take on a deeper fuller sound, and at just the right moment too. Prince’s voice has more strength to it on this song, and he sings the second part of it in his throaty voice. This is some great howls and shrieks near the end and for a minute I am transported back to the 1980s. The song ends, but it seems like the concert has turned a corner, and we have reached a better place.

Nothing Compares 2 U keeps to the loves lost theme, and Prince plays the part of the victim well. He voice is suitably sad and mournful when it needs to be, without ever being over the top. There is a moment when midsong he introduces Najee for a break, but it is kept short and we return quickly to the main body of the song. The song fades out with Najee playing while Prince speaks to the crowd about love, before the final coda with Najee. I enjoy him much more at this point, this seems like a much better fit for him here.

There is then a break with what sounds like electronic movie music. It doesn’t do much for me, and it certainly doesn’t seem very Prince like. But it does nicely fill the break while we wait for the encore.

Prince 2001a

The encore begins with the long keyboard intro of Lets Go Crazy. There is no spoken piece as you may expect with it, but it does run for a good minute before Prince can be heard with “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life” and the classic guitar riff begins. The drums sound good, the bass sounds good, the guitar sounds good, but once again it’s missing the Xfactor. I can’t fault the song in anyway, but it never quite grabs me. Prince’s guitar solo is nice, but not much more, and the song ends before it feels like it has even begun. Here it is just a shadow of its former self.

Take Me with U begins, but it too feels like it is just plodding along. Prince sings a little, and then leaves the crowd to sing the chorus before we move quickly on to……..

Raspberry Beret. Not much surprise there. Prince does speak to the crowd briefly about God and Christ, before the song begins proper with the crowd singing along. Prices guitar does chug along nicely, and the crowd do sound like they enjoy it. And it is good to hear a bit of pure pop and joy in the evening, which has sounded like a Prince concert by the numbers.

Darling Nikki is a funny and cool arrangement. The rolling snare sounds sharp, and the keyboard has a fun dainty sound to it. Prince cleverly avoids singing the lurid lyrics by having the crowd sing some of the more risqué lyrics. The latter part is also a bit of fun, with the bass rumbling well in the speakers while the keyboards provide some thrills and excitement. They even play it right through to the end, complete with the backwards finish, which is a treat.

The start of When Doves Cry is pure purple Prince, with the cold passionless Prince singing the main lines while the keyboard plays in the background. It briefly raises my hopes that this too will be played in full, but after a brief drum and keyboard refrain we move on.

Fathers Song is great, although short. Najee plays most of it, and he does a fine job of it. There isn’t too much more to say about it, although it does end with a few moments of him playing Computer Blue, which too is a tease and a treat.

As with the San Jose concert, the arrangement of The One, mixed with I would Die 4 U and Baby I’m A Star is outstanding. Over the somber music of The One Prince sings one line of Baby I’m a Star, and I Would Die 4 U. I couldn’t have imagined it working before I first heard it, but it is truly excellent. It runs at two minutes, and that is mostly the music alone before Prince sings his lines near the end. In my view, the concert is worth it just for these couple of minute.

Over the music of God Prince works his way through the band introductions, before he ends and hands the song over to Najee. Najee seems in his comfort zone here, and he gets a good four minutes to do what he does best. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea- it’s certainly not mine, but it does sound good, he does what he does well. It does feel like the show is coming near the end with this type of song and that’s proved correct as the next song is the final Purple Rain.

Prince 2001d

There is very little in way of introduction for Purple Rain, Prince starts singing almost right from the start. The recording has sounded good all the way through, and on this song you can really hear the nice echo on Princes vocals. You can also pick up some seconds of sweet guitar playing throughout as he sings his lines. Later the more heavy guitar enters and its here that for the first time in the show it sounds as if Prince is really expressing himself. After the initial intro to the guitar that I am used to he goes into his longer improvised section, and it’s now that I listen more carefully and get a lot more out of this show. It’s not fiery, but it is impassioned. The crowd does have its moment near the end, but the recording doesn’t pick them up very well, either they weren’t into it, or the mics just didn’t pick them up.

This show should have been more to me. It’s a great recording, and it’s got some top songs, and the band is faultless. And yet, as I said time and time again, it was lacking that magic to it. There was something missing, which left the songs sounding ‘nice’ but not great. Prince is in a holding pattern here, the next stage of his career, The Rainbow Children and ONA is very interesting for me, but here he is not quite there yet. He has moved on from his symbol era, but hasn’t really found his next place yet. But this is a great recording of a decent show, and I can’t fault it for that. A nice listen, but not essential.

See you next week with more of the same, but completely different

San Jose

Today’s recording is a dark horse to me. San Jose in December 2000 is a recording that I vaguely remembered was very good and enjoyable, but I couldn’t remember too much more about it. I gave it a fresh listen, and I was correct- it was a good fun concert. Sure, it’s very much a greatest hits show, but it’s all played with a lot of energy and pop that gave it a freshness that I found very enjoyable. Not too many surprises to be found here, but I had a fun couple of hours listening to it.

8th December, 2000, San Jose

The slowed down voice intro of 1999 is the first thing we hear on this recording, then the Prince squeal of ‘No’ from Lovesexy. It’s only an intro tape, but there is plenty of crowd noise, and it’s very clear that they are all in right from the start. The tape has snippets of My Name Is Prince and Erotic city, before a voice begins a countdown from 10, 9, 8, 7……

Prince San Jose 2000 4

There is a real sense of anticipation from the crowd, and even listening to the recording I feel the excitement growing in me too. The countdown reaches one and there is a long fast drum roll that takes me right back. It’s loud and fast and it reminds me of something I can’t quite put my finger on. Prince can be heard saying ‘San Jose’ and the band rock into Uptown. Now I know why that drum roll sounded so familiar! I would have never guessed that the show would open with this song, but it’s just fabulous, and like I say, I am immediately transported back to the early days. The band doesn’t over play it, and it’s still got a nice down to earth feel to it. Sometimes songs like this get played with a modern sheen on them, but this one here sounds just like it did back in the day. We are off to a great start.

There is no pause between songs, and we are still rooted in the early era as the band play Controversy. Like the previous song, it’s played in a more original configuration, and there is some nice guitar funking me up. The band at this stage is small, and there is no large horn section or extra players. All in all, it’s a great sound.

The song ends with the break down straight out of the Parade era. In my head I can almost picture Prince doing the cigarette lighting routine as the song winds down. I hold my breath for a second and cross my fingers as I hope what I think is about to happen happens.

The band seamlessly bangs into Mutiny and I feel like I have just stepped out of a time machine into 1986. It’s just as good as I had hoped. There is a sharpness and freshness to it, and it does sound just like the Parade era version that I have listened to 100’s of times. I can barely write now as I listen to it, everything is as it should be. Not all modern versions of Mutiny sound this good, and this is one to cherish. It’s played to the hilt, and the crowd is going bananas as the sax solo is played- I only wish I could see it. There is then a longish keyboard break, which I want to believe is Prince, but that’s wishful thinking and speculation on my part. I am not normally one to dwell on the past, but these first three songs have me feeling like I am 16 again.

Things take a smoother turn as Prince asks “We got any big soul sisters in the house?”, and then the smooth flow of Cream begins. Not being a fan of this song, it’s something I might usually skip over. But I listen to it here, and find myself enjoying it. The song is definitely a great pop song, and the guitar solo played on this recording has just enough rawness to it that it holds my attention on the song. I won’t be under estimating this song again for a while.

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Little Red Corvette is another exercise in nostalgia as it has a very nice long keyboard intro over the steady beat, while there is some very nice vocals overtop. I don’t know who is singing, but the sound of them over top gives a nice emotional feel to it, and the crowd get in on it with some hand clapping. Prince comes in, and it sounds like nothing has changed in 20 years. As a nostalgia moment it is pushing all my buttons. The guitar break is played on the keyboard, and even though it’s only a small change, it keeps me interested. Disappointingly what we get here is the abridged version and it ends right after this.

The crowd is in strong voice as the band play I Wanna Be Your Lover. Obviously there is many people there reliving their youth as I am now. The crowd is behind every line and there is an exciting feel to the whole thing. Prince only sings the first verse and one chorus, but it’s all a lot of fun.

Sexy Dancer begins without break. There is some very nice clean keyboard at the beginning of it, and that has me listening closely. The song is only played for a minute, which is a shame as it was sounding like it could have really been something. But I can’t complain too much as Housequake is the next song up.

This arrangement of Housequake is great. It retains the beat that I enjoy so much, and when Prince says “And the saxophone is fault, Najee!” it sounds fantastic. Najee plays a very nice break, its different but it sounds good. Prince also calls for Mr Hayes to get funky, and he gives us an organ solo that grooves along nicely. It’s funky and again adds a little more to the song. Prince also calls out the drummer, and there is a drum break that isn’t too over the top, and doesn’t derail the song as drum solos sometimes do. The song is played right out and there is plenty more of drum and organ throughout.

The tone is lowered and things take a darker turn as Dorothy Parker gets an airing. It begins with Prince talking to the crowd about change, but the song is what gets my attention here. It’s suitable subdued, and the downbeat sound of it all is as it should be. I could listen to this song all day, and the version here is just as I like. There is an especially nice piano break midway. Prince calls something sounding like “my piano” so I guess it’s his playing that I am enjoying listening to. It takes the song in a different direction, but that’s Ok by me. There is then a nice flute solo (At least I think it’s a flute) by Najee, and it’s the type of difference I enjoy on live performances. I give this one another thumbs up.

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There is finally a small pause in the action, and a proper break between songs. This is broken when the chugging guitar of Prince takes us back into rock mode. It’s very much a classic rock sound, just Prince and his guitar chewing it up for a couple of minutes. He mixes some nice high lead guitar with some more heavy rhythm, before the pounding beat of I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man begins. Initially it is just the beat, while Prince bangs out more guitar histrionics. Nothing is rushed and Prince gives it plenty before counting in the band with “one, two, three, four!” The band enters with a crash and the song begins as we have always known it. The backing vocals aren’t as strong as I would like, but who am I to criticize when Princes guitar playing is what this song is all about. He dispenses with most of the verses and heads straight to the guitar break. He barely begins before the band pulls back and we get the long extended mid section of the song. Prince plays an interesting break, plenty of long mournful playing, although to my ears it’s a little disjointed. The second half of the break is much more interesting to me, but unfortunately I won’t be adding this one to my list of favorite guitar breaks. Najee takes over with his saxophone, and my interest is piqued once again. I have never heard this take on the song before, and I want to listen to it more. After this I will be adding this to my playlist of songs I need to hear more of. Najee definitely gets a handclap from me for adding a lot of color to this song.

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I wonder what we will get next as we have the sound of rain fall, then some soft piano and vocals from the backing singers. I don’t have to wait long as Do Me baby begins. Every week I write this blog, and every week I find myself heaping praise on this song. Today is no different; the introduction music has me salivating like Pavlov’s dog long before Prince even begins singing. He gives a couple of ‘ooowwsss” before hand, and it only serves to ramp up the excitement in the crowd, and me! When he does finally sing there is a huge release, and I can’t help but sing along. The song doesn’t get played in full, after the first verse it quickly segues into the next seduction classic.

Scandalous is a must for any slow jams mix tape, but for me it loses a little of its power with all the audience screams and shouts. Who can blame them, Prince is working them and the song the best he can. After the first minute Najee gets another break, and I can see the ground work being laid for the ONA tour of the coming years. Prince comes back and sings as Najee plays, as I said before Najee is all over this recording and sounding great.

Staying in character the next song played is Diamonds and Pearls. I want to like it, I know that this is one of his most popular songs, but it’s just not for me. It’s played straight, but it’s very truncated, and it finishes on just over a minute. As a none fan of this one I am slightly relieved, but I do feel the frustration of those who like it, these medleys can be teeth clinching sometimes.

The Beautiful Ones should be a highlight. I am pleased just to hear it. Princes voice isn’t as strong as I would have liked, but I over look that as I am happy just to hear it. Like the previous songs it’s played short, this time Prince cuts the whole middle section from it and heads straight to the end as he howls into the microphone. Always my favorite section of the song, it looses a lot of its power in this shorten form. It should have built up to this point; instead by jumping right to it, it loses all its impact.

Keeping in this vein Nothing Compares 2 U is next on the set list. I like the song, I like Princes version, but this one is a little bland. But it definitely gets a whole lot better when Najee appears and plays his sax all over it at the midpoint. Lots of these songs are being saved by his playing, and I am rapidly becoming a big fan. Prince comes back to sing some more, but the sax has stolen the show for me, and it’s all I’m listening to by now. The song ends with just a piano tinkling away.

There is a break while a steady beat continues with a touch of organ, and something that sounds like a death laser. Its doesn’t add anything to the show, but it does give us a pause to catch our breath.

Finally the opening strains of Lets Go Crazy begin and the crowd’s reaction is predictably noisy. Nothing is rushed and the opening chords are held for a long time while the tension is built up. Some epic sounding lead guitar is played by Prince, but still the song doesn’t snap into life. Then finally “dearly beloved” gets the song and its unmistakable groove started. I thought the guitar might have been louder, but thankfully it’s tucked nicely into the mix and Princes voice and other instruments easily hold their own against it. The song is cut short and degenerates into chants of “lets go” with the crowd, before the well known Prince flurry to finish. Not my favorite arrangement of the song, but its inoffensive enough. Its not a totally write off, after his finishing flourish, Prince engages with another minute of guitar work which is worth listening to.

Prince San Jose 2000

We may well be back in 1984 as the band play a rousing rendition of Take Me With U next. It’s a facsimile of the song that we all know so well, and nothing has changed at all. Of course it ends very quickly and moves into Raspberry Beret. Prince does his spoken intro at this point about “Who hasn’t seen me before? and who has seen me before?” It’s quaint, and even though I have heard it plenty of time it still has a certain charm about it. The audience does most of the singing on it before the chorus and Princes vocals return. Its wound up here, and I’m about to get another surprise.

Darling Nikki is the next song, I don’t know when he stopped playing this one, but I would guess that this would have been one of the last times it was played in full live. It’s an interesting version; there is a nice sharp drum roll all through it that almost sounds militaristic. Prince starts to sing as dainty keyboard plays along. It’s back to familiar territory after this as the heavier keyboard rolls come after the verse. I am further surprised to hear it played right out in full, including the backwards singing at the end. Prince, you are so full of surprises sometimes!

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We stay in the Purple Rain era with When Doves Cry following immediately after. Normally I am not a greatest hits concert sort of guy, but I am loving this one. Again Najee is all over this song, and by now I am full on board. He is awesome, and I love this version. It doesn’t surpass the original, but it is highly recommended. It gets even better as Najee plays straight into Fathers song, and Computer Blue. You have to hear this, it’s a perfect fit, and the newness of it all is so refreshing.

There is then some nice keys while Najee plays some slow soft music over top. Like I said before, the template for the ONA tour is all over this, moments like this definitely has that sort of sound and vibe. If you ignore the greatest hits and just concentrate on moments like this you can see where he is heading.

Prince then sings a fantastic version of I would Die 4 U/ I’m a Star. Just over the same soft music he sings the lyrics slowly and deeply. He only sings a couple lines of each, but for that minute and a half I am transfixed. I am disappointed he doesn’t take it all the way, but this is still a great moment for me.

Najee takes the lead for God, and to be honest I am running out of words to describe how much I am loving him at this gig. Prince takes the time to introduce the band. He introduces each member as you would expect, but takes an extra moment to introduce Najee, and get him plenty of praise. I whole heartedly agree with Prince, and I am happy to find he is in agreement with me about Najees contribution. Obviously at this point Njaee gets another minute to play all over God, and its only fitting. It’s not outstanding, but it is entirely appropriate. As with the rest of the show I find it very enjoyable.

Purple Rain goes off in a direction I don’t expect, and I enjoy it even more for that. After the opening chords Prince takes us on a soft ride with some great lead guitar. Nothing over the top, just a couple of minutes of fine lead guitar. It’s easily the best part of the recording for me, and if I hadn’t have heard Purple Rain a 1000 times before I would probably come back to this one more. The rest of the song passes on much as you might expect, the guitar solo at the end, although enjoyable, doesn’t offer any surprises. I am pleased to hear Prince singing all the verses rather than skipping straight to the guitar break as he sometimes does, but having heard this at almost every concert there isn’t too much more that can be said about it. Prince does take a few minutes at the end of the song to preach the bible to the crowd, but that doesn’t detract from the recording at all, although it does probably go a minute more than it should do.

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The encore begins with the beat of Come On. It sounds a little flat and lifeless, despite the band doing their best to encourage the crowd to party. It does get better as it goes along, but it feels a little forced by the crowd. I do enjoy the song, and I would like to hear it live more often. Unfortunately this isn’t the best version I have heard. Najee sounds good on it, but the rest of the song it sounds like Prince is trying too hard to get the crowd partying.

The party continues into the next song as Prince encourages Geneva to bring up some people for dancing. As a listening at home experience it’s not great, but I can fully appreciate that at the gig it would have been pretty cool. There is a bit of sampling, and samples from several Prince songs can be heard before he breaks into Kiss. Although not great, it does have a nice groove running underneath it. As I have written many times, this is one song that never seems to sound great in the live setting to me. This one is likable, but still doesn’t quite get there for me. The crowd sound like they are having a lot of fun though, and several of them can be heard singing on the microphone during the song. Some are better than others, but no one is terrible which is surprising!

Gett Off ends the show with a slowed down nice deep groove. It’s another highlight for me, just the groove itself is enough for me. There is some rhythm guitar on top with Najee and his flute and the overall sound is funky with a capital F. Prince does deliver a heavy deep guitar break which shows off something completely different from the start of Purple Rain, yet I rate it just as highly. It’s a great way to close out the show, and as Princes ends his guitar break and says goodbye Najee plays us out. A fitting end to the show.

The setlist for this show didn’t have me feeling overly enthusiastic. But the playing on it and the sound that Najee brings to the table more than compensated for the set list. The hits had a fresh sound, and were played with an energy that must have been hard to muster for songs that have been played so much. I remembered that this one was good, but I had forgotten how good it was and why it was so enjoyable. A solid fun show that left me feeling very satisfied.

Thanks for reading

3rdeyegirl Rock Birmingham

Last week we went way back to 1981, this week something a little more recent- a 3rdeyegirl gig. I know what you are thinking, oh no another rock guitar based gig. It’s not on purpose, I promise! Next week I will make it up to you with a funk gig. To be honest I randomly choose this one as it was on top of my pile of recently listened gigs. Next week something to make you move, this week…

 May 15  2014, 3rdeyegirl, Birmingham

First of all I would like to thank and give praise to all tapers of gigs. Without your efforts and generosity we would never have access to gigs like this. In this case I would like to thank Spangleman who taped this one. Thanks.

Again, another audience recording. But things have really changed in recent years, with more sophisticated equipment and more thought put into the set up there are some really good audience recordings floating around. Although still not perfect by any means, they are still a vast improvement on what used to be.

This recording is pretty good, the band and Prince are clear though out, and there is not talking through the gig, which sometimes surfaces on recordings like this. There is one recording in particular, and I can’t quite remember what one it is, where through one song members of the audience can be heard talking about skiing. I can’t remember the song, but the chat is very distracting. Thankfully there is nothing like that in this recording.


The gig opens with Funknroll. It’s an interesting choice to open with, not being well known at the time. Although the song itself is good enough, it doesn’t quite have that show opening feel to it. It doesn’t have that energy or surprise of a good opener. 3rdeyegirl are known for being a very rock orientated unit, but it this case they barely rock at all. Nothing wrong with the playing, but the song doesn’t seem to go anywhere.

From there they kick into Take Me With U. The crowd seems more receptive, something well known to the general public and casual fans. But still it seems here to miss the pop and snap of the album version. Everything feels a little damp and slow. Prince throws in a couple of his catch phrases “I wish someone would sing” and “Put the house lights up”, but he’s just going through the motions at this point. So far its ‘Prince by numbers’ Being a guitar based rock outfit I would have loved to hear them give this song the long guitar heavy Purple rain video version, with Princes extended guitar solo, but they play well within themselves, and play it safe. It could have been so much more.

As is his way for the last 10 years he segues straight into Raspberry beret. Absolutely no surprise there! It’s predictable, but it raises a cheer from the crowd. The version here is played very straight, and it’s a little boring. But maybe I am just biased; to be honest I have never heard a live version of this that I like.

U Got The Look fails to take off too, its surprisingly unrocky apart from a couple of chunky guitar bursts. Maybe it’s the recording, or maybe the band. But the guitar sound isn’t really there like I expected it to be. I like what Prince has down with a lot of his songs recently, in his reinterpreting them live, but I feel the concept could have been pushed further. With this band he could have turned this song into something else. Or maybe I am too predictable with my Rock band = Rock songs.

The following song is Musicology, and although I am a fan of the song, in this case I found it a little uneven; it is up and down throughout. Maybe its missing the full band, but I feel it’s never really gets into the groove. Over all, the first half a dozen songs seem a insipid, it’s definitely a slow start to the gig. There is some nice light guitar playing by Prince near the end of the song, reminiscent of the soft solo he plays on the Hohner at the start of Purple Rain Syrcause 1985. I like this guitar sound and playing, I would buy an albums worth if I could.

Kiss is very different. The familiar jangle guitar is absent, its heavy on bass and synth. Its the singing that really carries it. Its an odd little version, and I can’t decide if I like it or not. This one will take multiple listens. Prince throws in his line “Desperate housewives” but that’s starting to get a little tired now. Prince – you need to watch some more recent TV. The song ends as a good sing-a-long for the crowd, so I guess it serves its purpose.

I wonder how many of the crowd recognizes Empty Room. The crowd is very quiet as it begins, and I am not sure if they are being respectful, or they just don’t know it. The drumming pulls me in, and when Prince sings it sounds like he is beginning to engage. Finally it feels like he is putting more of himself into this gig. This song has really grown on me recently and I enjoyed this version. Prince vocals sound stronger and near the end he unleashes a couple of decent shrieks, and guitar work. The gig has finally started!

I used to like Lets Go Crazy(reloaded) but I feel a bit over it now. Often it is a little pedestrian for my taste. Tonight it sounds good, I think it would have been better if I was actually there (I could say that for every song!) To be there with the guitar and bass rumbling through you would be a much more visceral experience. The strong electric sound of the guitar at three minute thirty caught my attention. Sounded very electric and buzzy.

Prince finishes the song by announcing “sound check is over”, and I couldn’t agree more. From here on in, we are into it!


After a very brief guitar interlude the band kicks into She’s Always In My Hair. For me this song has always sounded better live. It’s not so crisp and sharp as it sounds on the record, and to my ears it’s more emotional in the live form like this. I can’t help but think of the Digital Underground “Sex Packets” as Prince plays the main riff. To my mind this is the best sample ever used by a hip-hop group, and even now I can’t dissociate the two songs from each other. The band play a nice heavy version of She’s Always In My Hair, Princes solo is a good rock solo, and the band are finally playing a song that really suits their sound and style. Just as Prince sounds like this solo is going to spin right out, he pulls it back into the song and gives it that great Prince sound.

The breakdown of the song is a highlight, the twinkling guitar reminiscent of some of my favorite rock songs over the years. Prince sings his lines “Maybe I’ll marry her, maybe I won’t” with such passion. He still feels this song, and I can’t help but have the same feeling. It just grabs me. I can totally feel it. It’s during this part of the song that the limitations of the audience recording can be heard. Its not as good as earlier songs. The crowd is behind Prince all the way as he finishes with call and response and another guitar solo.

I can’t help but wonder what casual fans make of this song? Do they know it’s a B-side? Do they walk out of the gig hoping it’s a new song that will be on the next album? One hopes they dig back into the catalogue and dig it out. I was once at a Smashing Pumpkins gig, and they did a cover of Girls Aloud “Call the shots” and for days after the gig I was wondering about the song, where it came from. I am sure there were more than a few causal fans wondering the same about She’s Always In My Hair.

At a gig where guitars are to the fore, it’s only natural that the next song is in fact Guitar. I see a theme emerging here! Guitar is played with a lot of energy, and sounds great. There’s not much to it as a song, but it comes across great live. This is what Take Me With you should have been played like, all energy and enthusiasm. Donna’s playing is more free and less heavy, and it actually sounds better for it.

Plectrum Electrum is not so fluid. It sounds like a song of two halves. It’s quite good, its played with no vocals, and the first half is better than the second half. The first half is more song and structure, while the second half becomes whining guitar.

Fixurlifeup sounds better than on record. Its short and sweet. It almost passes before I register it. A nice song, I would have liked to hear more of it.

The upbeat guitar songs end when Prince brings it all down with Something In The Water (Does Not Compute). I will be honest here, I am very biased. This is one of my favorite songs, I have always had a real soft spot for it. It opens just Prince and the piano, and it sounds just great. This is how I like to hear it played. The guitar and slow drums kick in and the song changes gear a little. It has a great melancholy sound that suits the theme of the song so well, and I can’t help but just wallow in it all. The guitar line is so simple and repetitive, it has a great hypnotic quality to it. Prince gives a few good shrieks and howls and plays a nice 3-4 minute solo to finish the song. The guitar has the classic Prince tone to it, and it closes out the song perfectly.


Another song that sounds better here than the studio recording is Pretzelbodylogic. Although I am not a fan of the song itself, so that’s not really adding much to it. Lots of these recent songs live are a slow heavy riff and a couple of solos. I am not such a fan of this one, there doesn’t seem to be much variety or texture. It’s missing something playful, or something deeper. Either direction would be better than the middle of the road.

Stratus I have heard plenty over the last years, mostly at aftershows. By now there is almost too much guitar at the gig, its lacking variety. 3rdeyegirl are good, but they need more color and variation.

What’s My Name is another song from the past which seems well suited for this band. I really enjoyed it here, I would like to hear it played more often. I think he could ratchet it right up and make it much more intense if he wanted.

There is respite from all the guitar heroics when Prince begins the piano set. The first song he plays is How Come You Don’t Call Me Anymore. It still sounds fresh after all these years. The song stands on its own and shines. It still sounds as good as the day I first heard it.

After the opening song in the piano set I had high hopes, but Prince quickly turns it into a disappointing medley. Diamonds and Pearls gets 40 seconds (more than enough in my book) and then The Beautiful Ones managers to stretch out to a minute and a half. It’s very soft with his piano and voice very low, but it’s far too short and left me hungry for more.

Electric intercourse gets longer, which is good thing, but its lacks the emotion and power of the earlier performances over the years. One gets the feeling that Prince is just tinkling the keys and playing what comes to him.

The electric introduction to Controversy grabs my attention -I love the beginning of this version. The band is back on board now. Unfortunately it lacks the electro funk feel of the original for the rest of the song that I love so much. Its seven minutes, but after the first couple of minutes I am over it, and have a longing to hear the original. It outstays its welcome, and is one of the few songs where I wish it was a shorter version.

There is redemption with 1999. It’s not too bad at all, more like the original. The mood lightens up and it’s something fun that the crowd can enjoy. I hadn’t heard it for a while, so it was a nice surprise.

True to form Little Red Corvette is played in the slow mournful version that we have heard a lot of in the last 5 years. When he first unveiled this version I was an instant fan, although I have tired of it in the last couple of years. The novelty had worn off for me, but this performance got me back on board. I really liked this performance and I completely changed my mind. The sing-a-long section sounded great. It was a great way to close the main set.

Next the sampler set. Ugh, do I have to listen to it? As you can tell I am really not a fan of this. Every song is just a tease and makes me frustrated I can’t hear more. It’s like handing a TV remote to someone who skims through the channels. So infuriating!
The sampler starts off not so bad with When Doves Cry. This elicits a loud cheer of recognition from the crowd. Unfortunately we only get two short versus before he skips to the next song. I am thankful we got that much, but I would trade the whole sampler set just to hear a full version of one or two of these songs. This ends just as its getting good.

Sign Of The Times survives for one minute and two versus before it gets the chop. The whole sampler set is an exercise in frustration, I am trying not to rant, but it’s really a waste.

At 10 seconds is it even worth sampling Alphabet St? Grrrrr!

Forever in My Life suffers from sound issues. Apparently there were sound problems through out the gig, but only a few times in the recording is it apparent. During this song we can hear the distortion and I can only guess how it was there throughout the gig. The song itself is good, and he gets through it, but I long to one day hear the long version as played at the Trojan Horse gig. We all need a dream to cling to.

Although it’s only 2 minutes, Hot Thing sounds good. I particularly like the lyric change “Hot thing, barely 25, hot thing looking to come alive.” He has raised his standards! There is a nice moment half way through when he thanks the crowd for putting their phones away, he loves it when he can see their faces. It’s a nice sentiment. There is a fair amount of distortion here, not sure if its the recording the venue sound. I am guessing it’s the venues problem.

There is a very stop/start beginning to Housequake, and it actually suits the song. When he finally settles on the steady beat Prince sings in his classic funk voice, I can almost picture him pulling his funk face. It’s unfortunate that the song is again in a truncated form and it stops much too soon for my liking. I could have danced to this for much longer- two minutes is just not enough.

The next few songs are just tasters and teases, Nasty Girls gets barely 20 seconds, and The Most Beautiful Girl In The World gets one line.

Pop Life fares little better, we hear one full minute, enough time for one verse and one chorus. A disappointment for one of my favorite songs.

I would Die 4 U finishes the set with one minute, before Prince closes it with “Thank you all so much”

PRINCE-Birmingham (1)

I am much relieved when he plays Purple Rain as a full song with band. Although its very much overplayed (I think I have more than 200 versions of this song) its still good to hear it played in full here. Prince opens it with a longer intro as he speaks to the crowd and thanks them. I have heard many versions where he sings the first verse, a chorus and then skips to the guitar solo. Thankfully he doesn’t do that here, he plays it straight, and surprisingly it feels fresh because of that. It lasts the whole 9 minutes before he fades it down, and after the sampler set it feels much longer. Not that I am complaining at all.

If the gig had of ended here I would have been well satisfied. But there is an encore of Play That Funky Music that I could really do without. I am not sure why Prince is so enamored with this song, but for me it appears in his set lists far too often. For me this is the one track of the evening that I would skip over in an instant.
The gig has plenty of good things going for it, and despite my criticism I enjoyed the bulk of it. For every negative there was a positive, so all in all it balanced out. It was worth it just for Something In The Water, and Shes always In my hair. I feel the sampler set and some of the more mediocre songs let it down, but as most fans know, that is par for the course. It will never be the first recording I reach for when I want to hear something, but on the right day its a fair record of where Prince is at right now.

Next time we are going to look at something more funky. I am not sure what it will be yet, but I did see a tape kicking around the other day with “Chicken Grease” written on it, so that might be the one, if I can find some sort of machine to play it!

Thanks to everyone who has given feedback, and again thanks to all tapers of these shows.

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