Lovesexy Dome – Tokyo 1989

We are into our final days of our Tokyo sojourn, I have loved every minute I have been here but I ready to sleep in my own bed again. Before we fly back to New Zealand we have time to visit one more bootleg from Prince’s tours of Japan. This one comes from the Lovesexy tour and captures a performance at Tokyo dome. Everyone knows there are some great soundboards circulating from this tour, this recording comes from the other end of the spectrum and is an extremely poor audience recording. Its muffled, thin, the audience is overly loud and Prince is overly quiet. I have chosen this one because it is the longest concert of the Japan leg, and although the recording is terrible, the show is great. I in no way recommend this one, it borders on unlistenable, but I am a die hard and am quite prepared to listen to it so you don’t have too (and after a month of Japanese TV, this is a welcome relief).

February 5th, 1989 Tokyo Dome, Tokyo

You know what you’re in from the start as the recording captures several people chatting and clapping. At first I treat it as a pleasant scene setter, that is until I realize later that there is music playing, and the crowd is drowning it out. They clap the beat, and in the distance and can hear the all too familiar opening to the Lovesexy concerts, almost ghost-like it is so faint.

I know the Lovesexy shows very well, so even though the music is distant I can easily make out the opening “Housequake.” It sounds typical of the rest of the tour, what I can hear of it. A lot of nuances are missing on the recording, but one can easily recognize Prince’s vocals and the distinctive beat. The final half of the song is frantic, and I find I listen closely to try and catch what crumbs I can.

“Slow Love” sounds better, bigger and fuller and Prince’s vocals swell and fill the recording. This holds through the following “Adore,” and I briefly consider the recording might be as bad as I thought, especially the spoken part that segues into “Delirious”

“Delirious” again displays the recording limitations we have encountered so far. The crowd is far too much in the recording, and “Delirious” is buried under a layer of grime. The same can be said of “Jack U Off,” only the horns can be heard through the fray. I can hardly hear the lyrics of “Sister,” and for the first time I think the quality of the recording might be a blessing. On a positive note, the final flurry of guitar can be clearly heard, and inspires me to listen further.

The first strains of “Do Me, Baby” has me light headed, and as the bass pops I am in seventh heaven. It slows the medley, and I begin to connect with the concert as Prince puts the crowd through their paces. A heavenly song, it rises above any other negativity that can be heard. The final spoken part from Prince has me feeling fifteen again, and visions of ex-girlfriends swim before my eyes as he seduces with merely words.

The opening riff of “I Wanna Be Your Lover” is a call to arms for truefunk soldiers, and Prince rewards with a grand rendition “Head.” “Head” has always been down and dirty, and here even more so as the recording matches it from griminess. The main riff rings out loud and clear, but again that is the only positive of the recording. Even Dr Finks solo, although brilliant kinetic, is lost in the general crowd noise. I do, however, enjoy the call and response, and Prince’s continual call of “this is now a discotheque.”

I want to like “Girls and Boys,” I really do, but on this recording it is neither here nor there and leaves very little impression upon me. On the other hand, “A Love Bizarre” is fast, frantic, and utterly compelling. Prince airs it right out, and this is one of the longest songs on the recording.  The call and response briefly has me wishing I could be there, and I find this is one of the more passionate Lovesexy shows in circulation. Generally I find them almost too well staged and tight, this concert retains a looseness and a feeling that I can relate to and that makes it all the more appealing to me. The calls and response continue for sometime, although they are never boring and the momentum of the song, and the concert, is retained. Oh, and Miko is brilliant!

Prince singing happy birthday to Mr Udo (the promoter) is an interesting moment, but for me the real treasure comes next with a rough and ready “When You Were Mine” jumping out of the blocks. As always it touches the inner rocker in me, and I am just excited to hear it as the overly vocal crowd obviously are. At two minutes Prince seems to have a guitar fault, but the song and the band barrel on without him.

The arena is warmed with the first strains of “Little Red Corvette.” The rest of the song delivers on this promise of warm nostalgia, and the crowd are more than happily to sing along as required, as well as providing the necessary screams to herald in the guitar solo.

The show again accelerates from this point, with “Controversy” providing the first thrust that will carry the following numbers. It is short, and it is “U Got The Look” that continues this onward momentum. “U Got The Look,” sounds dreadful on this recording, the crowd far too loud,and the mix badly out of balance. Things don’t improve for “Superfunkycalifragisexy,” and I begin to regret that I am such a completest.

“Bob George” sounds cool, although in the Lovesexy concert it is a visual experience as much as an audio experience. It is easy to imagine what is unfolding on stage, and I find myself smiling at Prince’s dark humor.

Balanced is restored with “Anna Stesia” bringing closure to the first half of the show. It stirs up far more feelings of nostalgia than “Little Red Corvette” earlier in the setlist, I am right back in high school as I close my eyes and listen to Prince play. There is some echo, but Prince’s vocals ride over any such storms and in some ways it reminds me of the old chewed up cassette tape of Lovesexy that I used to listen to over and over.

A light is shined into the darkness in the form of “Cross The Line,” the mood of the show already lifting as it welcomes in the second half of the concert. The white noise that introduces “Eye Know” is hard to distinguish from the general noise heard on the recording, and I inwardly smile at myself as I hear Prince say “The reason my voice is so clear…”  “Eye Know” has the crowd well and truly involved and its pleasing to hear that I’m not the only one who clearly loves this song. One of the things I have found about attending Prince concerts is that you always find other like minded people who seem to cheer and appreciate the same small things as you do. Prince fans really do feel like family sometimes.

The theme of the album is maintained through  “LoveSexy,” in this case giving me an urge to pull out the original album and give it a listen. There is plenty going on in this live rendition, we may not be able to hear it all, but I know it’s there.

“Glam Slam” features more audience singing, both at the venue and all over the recording. Its not as long as the previous two songs, but I still enjoy hearing it, and I especially enjoy hearing Prince fully engaged with the album he was promoting at that time.

It’s very hard to listen to “The Cross” without comparing it to the Dortmund show. That show created such a powerful visual image and sound that any recording would struggle against it, and especially so this one. In this case I like the rawness of Prince’s guitar sound, and for a while I fool myself into thinking the echo is making Prince sound better. But who am I kidding, I would rather watch the Dortmund performance of this song anytime.

There is a lightness to “I Wish U Heaven,” not just on this recording but on all performances, that doesn’t quiet work on bootlegs. As compensation we get extra audience vocals, but they aren’t as delicate, or as beautiful, as Prince’s. It is only the last half of the song where the guitar awakes that I become interested, its too little too late, but it is a nice touch.

I love the bass of “Kiss” in these Lovesexy shows, and here is no different and it both anchors the song and propels it forward at the same time. Prince is barely audible, so its just as well the bass and guitar are so divine, and I am more than happy with what little I can hear.

“Dance On” is merely the introduction for Sheila E and her rap and drum solo, something I whole heatedly disapprove of. Not because of Sheila herself or her performance, but because I think “Dance On” should get much more time than it is allocated. That disappointment aside, it is always fun to hear Sheila as she hammers away and the next few minutes I have a happy grin as she indulges me in her trademark drum style.

Finally, one of my favorite parts of the Lovesexy concerts – the piano solo. “Venus De Milo” has my weepy eyed from the opening moments, the following few minutes containing all you could want from Prince’s sweeping piano playing. “Starfish And Coffee” isn’t quite on the same plain, but it still retains the sweetness of the moment.

There is only a brief moment of “Raspberry Beret” before Prince settles into a tender “Condition Of The Heart.” I am disappointed that it is only fleeting, but there is a treat in the form of a rare appearance of “International Lover’ that more than makes up for it. Only thirty seconds, but it raises my pulse through the roof, and for half a second a hear a teenage girl squeal of delight escape from my forty-year-old manly lips.

The piano version of “Strange Relationship” is now familiar to most people. As always, there is plenty of funk and feeling in Princes finger tips, although the audience clapping takes me out of the moment.  However, the following “Free” again has me in fanboy heaven, and delivers up the second seismic shock of this piano set. A rarity buried in the setlist, this is one of the reasons I elected to listen to this recording, and the sound has improved by this stage that I can actually say its an enjoyable moment.

An instrumental “With You” carries us through to the finale of the piano set – “When 2 R in Love.” I may not approve of his spelling, but I definitely approve of the song, even if it is barely a chorus and a slow fade.

I know what to expect with “Let’s Go Crazy,” and Prince gives it to me with the standard 1988/89 run through. The “go, go, go” chants leave me cold, as does the rest of the song, and although it is a sacred cow I find I dislike it.

Prince makes short work of the Purple Rain album – “When Doves Cry” is truncated, and lacking some of the bite of other concerts (more specifically, the dog bark). The audience seem to like it though, true to the form they sing loudly throughout and they are stronger than anything else on the recording.

It is a thin “Purple Rain” that makes an appearance at this show. Prince’s vocals remain distant, and its hard to know if this is a great performance or not. The guitar solo is equally lost on the recording, which surprises me as I expected the recording would pick it up much better. Of all the parts of “Purple Rain,” it is the audiences “oohhh oohh ohhh” that sound closest to what is on record, and the song belongs to them as much as Prince on this occasion.

There is no “Alphabet St.” at this concert, and it is instead “1999” that closes out the show. It is a worthy rendition with Prince at full voice as he extols the crowd to party. Its a fitting end to the show, although my ears are pleased its over. Its only in these last minutes that I let myself acknowledge just how bad this recording was.

I do not recommend this recording in the slightest. I do however wholeheartedly recommend this particular concert. It is coming near the end of the tour, and the band are razor sharp and deliver a great performance. Add in the couple of rarities and arresting moments and it makes for a curious listen. I would be far more effusive if the recording was even slightly better, but it is what it is. Not one to revisit, but it gives us an idea of the quality of some of Pricnes perforamnces at the time.

Thanks again
next time I will safely ensconced back home in New Zealand
-Hamish

 

Sendai 1989

I had several choices of recordings to listen to from the Lovesexy tour. The most famous, and widely available would is the show from Dortmund Germany. I have decided not to listen to that one today, instead I am listening to Sendai, Japan. It’s almost as well known, and is an excellent soundboard recording. I like this one, especially as the set list is a little different from the Dortmund gig. Lovesexy shows were an experience in themselves. Prince presented his new material, in a way that let you know that it was very important to him personally. At the same time his old material was played, but it was tweaked in such a way as that it could contribute to the overall arc he was performing at the show. The shows started with Prince running quickly through his back catalogue. It’s a medley, yet he plays just enough of each song that I never feel cheated. It’s a clever way to get the weight of history off his back so he can really concentrate his, and the audiences, attention on the new material. I am looking forward to this one, so let’s take a listen.

1 February, 1989, Sendai Japan

“Snare drum pound on two and four, all the party people get on the floor – bass!” A simple but effective intro to Housequake. The drums sound great, right from the start I know I am going to love this one. Housequake sounds a little thin on record, but here it’s nice and round, and the drums and horns have me bobbing my head right from the start. The song is genius and as I listen I try to break it down. I have no idea how he could even conceive it and put it together, but listening here, and can see it’s the all built round the drums and horns. The other great thing about the live version is the bass is much stronger- which is always a great thing for me! Housequake is the longest song played in the first half of the show, and it gives the band a good five minutes to really get into it. The song sounds like its going to end with a brief drum roll, but then after a few words from Prince we are back to one final chorus.

Prince Sendai

When the song does end, Prince slips easily into the smooth Slow Love. I loved this on the Sign O The Times tour, but like everything for the next 40 minutes its cut down early, just as I was getting in the mood for love too!

Adore seems like a natural progression, following straight on. Prince’s voice is spot on here, and it showcases just how strong his vocals are. After some brief vocal gymnastics Boni intercedes and there is some interplay between the two of them.

A sudden shout and a blast and things speed up considerable with a break neck Delirious. The song has always been up-tempo, but here seems even quicker, and the 30 seconds it gets seem to go by in a flash.

In a similar vein Jack U Off follows, but it gets a longer outing. Prince seems to have got his set list very well constructed here, the songs are grouped together in a way where they all seem well suited to what comes before and what follows. The three songs in this group are Delirious, Jack U Off, and Sister, and they seem like a natural family together. Jack U Off is quite sprightly and the horns add a nice element in contrast to the guitar heavy version form earlier tours. There is even time for an organ solo in this one, before the guitar takes a short solo.

The song rolls into Sister, and unbelievably it’s even faster. However it only gets a verse and a chorus, but that is enough. Some nice solo guitar work ends it, one can only assume its Prince. The band jump back into the fray and the guitar work goes up another level again. A quick dash to the finish line, and then a lovely and surprising segue into Do Me Baby.

Prince 1989 02

Do Me Baby slows things down nicely, not only is it a slow song, but here it is played longer than most songs in the first half, so we all have a chance to catch our collective breaths. The beauty of this recording is that I can hear Prince so well, and his vocals are magnificent. A couple of excellent squeals and then in his deeper voice some very cool seduction talk. He’s done it thousands of times, but it always sounds so good. The song ends with a couple of lines from Adore.

The energy levels are restored with the intro of I Wanna Be Your Lover. Before I get too excited about hearing it, things turn nasty with Head. It sounds good, but I think its missing the visual element, I need to see it as well as hear it. One of my keystone songs, it’s the dark dirty early recordings of it I prefer, this one is a little too clean and sharp for my liking. However Fink is still here to play his solo and that is always a plus.

‘On the one” brings us to Girls and Boys. I adore this song on Parade era recordings, however here it’s a pale imitation of itself. It only gets a minute, and seems a little too sterile.

However Love Bizarre seems to come out great, the bass and drum seem thicker and the horns a little stronger. Having Shelia E on tour is definitely a bonus, and it’s great to have her vocals on it. The song takes a very funky turn when Miko plays a break and the band and Prince chant “Who’s house, Mikos house!” I only wish that it went for longer.

Prince 1989 03

When You Were Mine sounds almost the same as the day it was recorded. Prince’s guitar sounds the same, and the only difference is the band when they sing along. Again, this song gains a lot on this soundboard recording. It gets more exciting when Prince encourages the crowd to song “Hey, hey!” and even I feel myself getting more excited. The horns playing at the end is an excellent touch, and it’s a really nice update of something from his back catalog.

The pounding start of Controversy brings a big smile to my face, but sadly after a minute it switches to the mournful keyboard into of Little Red Corvette. But its no bad thing, it’s a well needed change of pace, and I can’t stop thinking what a great set list this is. As he did for many years, the song ends abruptly after the guitar solo, and we go straight into U Got The Look.

I have mixed feelings about U Got the Look, I love the funky rhythm guitar underneath, but hate the loud rock guitar over the top. I am at war with myself over it. Luckily I don’t have too long to over think it, as it ends soon enough.

Superfunkycalifragisexy is a favorite of mine from the Black Album. Here it is very enjoyable to listen to, and sounds just as fresh as it does on record. I was very surprised to see Black Album songs in the set list, but at the same time very grateful. These were creative little songs that deserved to be heard by a wider audience.

The songs ends back where we started with a Controversy,and then things really get interesting.

Bob George is a strange choice for the Lovesexy tour, and yet it makes perfect sense. It’s dark and funky, and the antagonist of the song is at his lowest point. It makes sense in the wider context of the set list, and the rebirth and redemption that follows. I wouldn’t want Prince to write too many songs like Bob George, but I do like it very much and I love the creativity he shows with it. It ends with the Lord’s Prayer here, and a bang, literally.

After a few seconds of silence and dark noise the show resumes with Prince on the piano, playing Anna Stesia. The first time I ever heard the Lovesexy album this was the song that grabbed me. This was the song I was most intrigued by, and the song that seemed to speak to me. Even today as I listen to it, I find I am asking myself questions and listening to it on many levels. Anna Stesia marks the end of the first half of the show, no more medleys and shortened versions, from here on its all Lovesexy, positivity and full length versions. Anna Stesia sounds great, I can’t tell you enough what a great soundboard this is. The song ends with Prince singing “God is love, love is God” and that tells you pretty much where we are heading for the rest of the show.

There is then a few minutes if intermission, and Cross The Line. It sounds a little corny now, but in the context of the whole show it definitely belongs and has its place. There are all sorts of samples and noises, and I think if I had of been there it would have definitely kept me guessing about what was coming next.

Prince 1989

I have to admit I was lying on the couch with my eyes closed, trying to digest all the parts of the intermission, when Prince’s voice burst out of the speakers and scared the life out of me! An “Ewww” and Prince strongly begins Eye Know. This is another one of those songs from Lovesexy that I never get tired of listening to. I like this one, I can hear Prince very well, and the song isn’t as ‘busy’ as it sounds on the record. Prince tells Miko he likes the guitar, it sounds funky, and he is so right. All the different parts of the song work, and I find I am trying to listen to them all individually and pick out what they are playing. It all works together and I finally decide that only a mad genius could have written this song.

The opening beat to Lovesexy grabs my attention, it’s so loud and full. All the Lovesexy songs sound strong live, and I am pleasantly surprised. I remember when I first heard the album I could never imagine how they would work in a live situation, but work they certainly do. The rhythm section in this song is outstanding. Again, it’s another song with plenty of layers, so there is always something new to listen to or pick out.

Glam slam seems like a logical choice to follow with. Its fresh sounding, and my only problem with it is that it finishes after 2 minutes.

The Cross is a natural fit in this portion of the show. It’s sounding better here than it did on The Sign O Times tour, a little less reverent, and a little more uplifting. I don’t know how the music changes to reflect that, maybe it’s the songs surrounding it than give me that feeling. Again, testament to Princes great set list. As you might expect, Princes guitar playing is a highlight, an absolute joy to listen to. The tone of the whole song is uplifted and it’s hard not to smile as I listen to it.

I find the beat of I Wish U Heaven very soothing, and the moment it starts I feel better. Shelia E is all over this one, and she is in fine form. The quality of Prince’s bands has always been the best of the best, and Shelia E is just another example. A star in her own right, she contributes so much to this show, and this song. Miko is another favorite of mine and his guitar playing at the end of this is nice and crisp.

Prince begins the next with “Sendai, come here and give me a Kiss”. If you have read any of my other blogs you will know my feelings about Kiss. This one in particular I am not so fond of. The guitar is buried and there is too much horn. Prince says “I like it” but unfortunately I can’t agree. No fault of his, or the band, they play well, the problem is all mine.

Dance On is another personal favorite from the album, I was hoping for a full version, but instead I get an intro then Shelia E brings out the Transmississippi Rap. It then becomes a Shelia E drum solo. I love Shelia, but I have never been one for drum solos (perhaps bitterness over my own lack of rhythm?), nor have I ever enjoyed the Transmississippi Rap. It’s unfortunate, and combined with Kiss, this portion of the show loses me. Its no big thing, I can’t be a fan of everything, it’s just a shame, I had such high hopes when I saw Dance On on the track listing.

Prince 1989 1

The keyboard swell, so familiar from the 1988/1989 era, begins Lets Go Crazy. Prince delivers an abridged version of the intro before the crunching guitar cuts in. There isn’t anything new or different played here, but Prince does get a good chance to show off his guitar skills, and as usual he delivers. He forgoes further guitar heroics in the latter part of the song to instead encourage the crowd to sing “go go go”. I am sure it was great if you were there, sitting on my comfy bean bag listening to the recording it didn’t really move me. You can’t beat being at a live gig, that’s for sure.

This is obviously the purple part of the show as the classic riff of Doves Cry follows. Plenty of horns on the intro, to my ears it sounds a little more funky. The shorten variation that gets played doesn’t do the song justice, but I did enjoy all the additions, the bass, the horns, the samples on top.

There is a very short guitar intro to Purple Rain. It feels fleeting compared to some of the long drawn out versions we have had over the years. As I guess, Prince sings on the first verses, and chorus before he launches into his trademark solo. Is there anything else to say about Purple Rain? It’s played at almost every gig, I have 100’s of recordings of it. This one is no better or worse than any other I have heard.

1999, does it sound better with horns or not? The jury is still out, I can’t decide. There is still a nice strong keyboard presence on this recording, so I get the best of both worlds. Prince skips over the bulk of the song and heads straight for the fade out where he can engage the audience. Even then, by the three minute mark it’s all over with a rumble and Prince thanking the crowd, and assuring them that God will take care of them.

There is a feeling that the show maybe over, but after a minute Prince is back, and for a final encore we get Alphabet St. Every show has a highlight for me, in this show it would have to this, along with Anna Stesia. Prince sounds very playful as he sings, and the band weaves in and out around him. Things get more interesting after Cats rap, and although it’s played tight, I get the feeling the band could have happily jammed on this one. In fact it’s interesting to me, that this show is so rehearsed, choreographed and note perfect, and yet this is the same band we hear at after shows, where they really spread their wings and fly. They always sound tight and well reined in here.

Prince 1989 4

The show ends with the sound of water running, and I guess it’s the noise of baptism and purity.

A show from yet another interesting period of Prince’s career, I overall enjoyed it very much. You may think from some of my negative comments above that I didn’t rate this very highly. And looking at it on paper, highly choreographed, rehearsed, and tight, I don’t think I was going to enjoy it too much. But the show is so well played, and Prince believes absolutely in what he is playing, that I can’t help but enjoy it. I will always feel it when someone believes in what they are playing. And I can’t forget, the strength of the songs themselves shines through, and there are some of my favorite songs here. This wouldn’t be the first CD I would grab out, but I always enjoy it when I hear it. Overall rating: Solid.

-Hamish

Warfield Theatre, 1988 Aftershow

I haven’t heard or read many people talking about this recording, but it is a gig and a recording I really like. Aftershows throw up a wide variety of songs, and no two are ever alike. This one has several songs that appear on numerous other recordings, but also a couple of others that aren’t played as often, and these are the ones that really make me excited about this recording. The recording is muted, but clear, but it is short- clocking in at just over an hour. But a very enjoyable hour it was indeed.

11 November 1988  Warfield theatre, San Francisco

Like many other Prince gigs, this starts with a steady beat. Just the drums playing a relatively simple beat. There is just a touch of bass, but I don’t recognize it at first, until there is a loud cheer from the crowd and Prince starts to sing Positivity. The keys enter at the same time, and even though it’s somewhat quiet, it’s an excellent start to the gig. It’s hard for me to give an unbiased opinion about this song. Lovesexy is regarded as the highest creative peak, in terms of albums, that Prince ever reached. And I know that for many people, their favorite song on the album is Anna Stesia. I love Anna Stesia too, but I also have an equal amount of love for Positivity. Its tone and mood captures my imagination, and there is all sort of interesting moments in it that excite me. So for me, to have it open this show is fantastic, and I am all in right from the start. The song gets better and better as it progresses. The keyboard gets louder, and more clunky. After a quiet first verse, Prince sings the second verse much more full throated, and it has a nice full sound to it. It’s more human and not as mechanical as it sounds on the record. There are plenty of cheers (some of them might be from me on the couch) as a long sax solo begins. Ah yes, Eric Leeds, no need to tell you again how much I love his playing. He finishes one solo, there is a brief pause by Prince, and then he calls for another solo from Eric. Not a word of complaint from me, I could listen to this stuff all day. The song then moves into a form more in line from the album, with plenty of Princes singing. He’s not as cool and laid back as you might expect, and the song is so much stronger. The bass too is not so buried in the mix, and it well heard in the last couple of minutes. With a “Hold on to your soul” the song comes to an end. What a brilliant opening to the show.

The muted chord progression of Dorothy Parker begins. I am only listening to the show, but already in my mind I picture it as a dark smoky type of gig. Both these songs have that sound to them. Dorothy Parker sounds good, there is some nice horn and piano playing, and a great moment when Prince ad-libs “Mind if I turn on the radio, Madhouse was on!” This is followed by a piano break, which has a cool jazzy feel to it, as you might imagine. The horns and piano are what this one is about, the horns never dominate, but they do add a lot of color. The song drops down a bit, and over a repetitive couple of chords the sax plays for a while. It’s a very cool couple of minutes, I can’t properly describe it, but to me it sounds like this picture looks……

Piet Mondrian broadway boogiewoogie

Prince sounds pretty relaxed as he thanks the crowd for coming out, and tells them “this beats hanging out at the hotel watching Letterman” He immediately begins Housequake, and this is again a very strong version. He sounds like his heart is really in it on this night, and his vocals are quite impassioned. The band is very cohesive on this one, and there is nothing loose or wild about it. The horn solo is brief and tight, and it played as heard on Sign O Times. It’s no bad thing at all, and this is one of my favorite renditions of this song. Not that there’s anything special about it, just its played with a lot of heart. Later in the song things become a little more exciting, there is a couple of ad-libs from Prince, and the band begin to swing off a shade more. It has a funky false ending, before Prince calls the band back for a finally couple of lines.

Prince then says “I think I want to play guitar” and we are treated to some beautiful lead guitar. He’s warming up, and playing some nice lead lines. With a hushed “one, two” the familiar sound of Just My Imagination begins. The first couple of minutes of guitar set the bar high, and it’s almost disappointing when the song begins proper. Princes’ singing is warm and inviting, and I find myself falling under his spell as I listen to this. The guitar break is equally alluring, and it draws me in slowly before Prince begins to crank up the pressure. This is one of my favorite renditions of Just My Imagination; the guitar break is passionate, but not too fast or furious. Prince sounds like he is holding back but it sounds great. I especially like what comes next- some very impassioned singing of Noon Rendezvous by Prince. It takes me a few seconds to register what I am hearing, but when I realize what it is I am blown away. I love it when he sings “I don’t care what you got on your feet baby, I just want to meet you, I just want to greet you, I just want to take off all your clothes and eat you”. Oh yes, we miss you a lot ‘Dirty Prince’. There is a loud cheer as the song ends, but I don’t think the audience realize just how great that was!

Prince 1988 1

There is the sound of some lead guitar next, before the more relaxed sound of I’ll Take You There begins. The crowd sound as if they are enjoying it, there is plenty of handclapping, and a couple of whoops as Boni sings. I like the little guitar I can hear, but what I enjoy most is the singing of Boni. Usually I find it hard to get into a song that Prince himself isn’t singing, but today I find myself enjoying this one a lot. There is a few minutes of the singers repeating “I’ll take you there” while some nice guitar is played underneath by Miko. Nothing too heavy or in your face, just some nice funky rhythm. Things pick up after this and Boni and the music both start pushing much harder. The song ends abruptly, but I think it’s my recording rather than the band itself.

‘Take this beat, I don’t mind’ starts us into I wish U Heaven part 3 (Take this beat). Another favorite of mine from this period, it’s played nice and upbeat, with plenty of funk. Prince is sounding like he is enjoying it a lot, and sings “I gave you Levi, you don’t want him” a few times, before there is a great break for the bass. It gets better and faster as it goes, and it shows off some of Levis talents nicely. Now the band really begins to jam. Boni sings and we move into Cold Sweat. It’s played as we have heard before, pretty much the same as The Small Club gig. The band and Boni more than do it justice here, and its part of a much longer medley.

Next “Ladies and Gentlemen, on the drums, Prince!” He plays an enjoyable drum break, nothing too spectacular but it shows off plenty of his skills. The bass joins in after a bit, and there is a brief jam. Again, it all sounds very good, but there is nothing spectacular. A sharp “on the two” ends Princes time on the drum before the very Shelia E percussive sound begins.

Shelia E’s solo here is one of the more enjoyable ones I have heard from her. It’s much more colorful, and percussive sounding rather than just a basic rock solo. She plays some cool sounding fast rhythms, and it’s definitely a head bobber for me. As much as I love Shelia, I don’t always enjoy her solos, but this one plays to all her strengths, and it’s great. For the first time I find myself thinking “I wish that went for longer”. The recording is worth listening to for this alone.

Prince 1988 2

There is a longer pause after this, and then Prince instructs Boni to “Hit an F chord”. A moment of twinkling on the piano as Prince sings the first lines of Lovesexy, and then the beat comes in and we get a proper full-on rendition of Lovesexy. It sounds great live, the guitars can be heard much more, as can the bass. There is a lot happening to listen to, but it still keeps a groove about it. The crowd starts singing “hey hey” with Princes encouragement, and for a few seconds I can close my eyes and imagine myself there. The music swirls around, and Prince sounds like he is having a great time. He sings ‘Hollyrock’ for a bit, and I get the feeling that this song is really going to be stretched out. The bass and drums are right in front (mostly due to the recording I think) and it gives the song a much harder sound. There is a false ending, and then Prince starts pushing the band in different directions. All sorts of sounds and lines are thrown into the song. I hear a snatch of Glamorous life, as well as A Love Bizarre before somewhat bizarrely Prince sings a line from ‘Born in the USA’. This is followed half a minute later by a line from ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’. The band really start smoking after this, there is a definite upturn in intensity, and then Boni starts singing Chain Of Fools. Unfortunately the recording isn’t great, and I don’t hear her as well as I might, but she sounds good. At this point the saxophone makes a very welcome return, this time playing fast and furious. The band is chugging along at great speed now, and moves effortlessly into a Beautiful Night. I often underestimate this band, but when I hear shows like this I am in total awe. They are awesome in every sense of the word. With a shout of “Vegas” Prince brings it all to a halt and the recording ends.

Prince 1988

I am very surprised that this recording doesn’t get more love. I have heard very few people mention it, but I thought it was outstanding. True, it’s an audience recording, and that does detract from it a lot. But the performance is hot, the setlist has enough in there to make it interesting, and the band is very tight. If this was a better recording it would be magnificent, but even as an audience recording I still find it totally absorbing.

I am looking forward to next weeks recording, I already have a few ‘must listens’ lined up
-Hamish