I feel cheated. It seemed like a good idea last week to write about both the shows at the Troubadour, but there was one fatal flaw in my plan – the bootleg of the second concert is incomplete, and by a substantial amount. To be honest the recording that exists of the show is merely a taster as it takes in a scant twenty minutes of what was a two and a half hour performance. I was disappointed when I realized my error, but I have decided to plough on regardless. The tape we do have is short, and only an audience recording, yet I feel it is still worth giving some time and consideration to, if nothing more to give me closure after listening to the first concert. The first concert set a high standard, and this later show promises to be even better. The setlist from this later show appears heavier, and with a much more aftershow feeling about it. Both aspects appeal to me, and I am sure this recording gives a good indication of what the concert was about.
12th May, 2011 (am) Toubadour, Hollywood, California
The party is well and truly underway as the recording comes in near the end of “Musicology.” The tape only catches “Musicology” in its final throes, nevertheless we can hear and feel the swing in the music, and the audience’s reaction is more than enough to suggest that this has been quite a show already. “Musicology” appears about half way in the setlist, so the audience have had plenty of time to marinade in the music, and their own juices, something readily apparent in the noise at the end of “Musicology”
The four minutes of “Musicolgy” is mostly crowd noise after the song finished, and it is “Crimson And Clover” that ushers us properly into the concert. It has a natural elegance, and an easy, delicate beauty that is beguiling, even when Prince isn’t to the forefront of the performance. Andy Allo is star that the song orbits around and she has an understated radiance that spreads a warm glow across the recording, the performance, and life itself as she charms all with her honey dipped vocals. The audience recording seems to fit the moment, with an out of focus softness that brushes all edges off the music. The rest of the band may be playing the music, but Prince is the song itself as he enters, and he appears as a thunder bolt for his crushing moment as the music rears it’s head briefly into “Wild Thing.” He personifies the song as he plays with a startlingly controlled fury, an exhilarating rock moment as the guitar embodies the true meaning of wild thing, will remaining tethered to the ideals of “Crimson And Clover.” This song makes up the bulk of the recording, and is reason enough to give it a listen.
The mix of “She’s Always In My Hair” is busy, and the drive and energy of the original is dissipated by the extra sounds that muffle the recording. There is a brief respite as Prince’s axe cuts through the baroque sound, it cleaves the song in two but isn’t quite as cleansing as I hope – the final minutes see’s it swamped by the bass and keyboards that the recording seems to crave. The final minute of the song features Prince’s guitar thrumming through the gears, but we never reach overdrive, the song finishing before Prince can fire us into the home straight.
The final two minutes of the recording capture the first half of “Play That Funky Music.” Surprisingly I find myself deeply attracted to it, perhaps because I am denied the complete show and this absence leaves me with a hunger for more. It is an loud and unruly performance with the crowd contributing their own energy and buoyancy to the song and the show. There isn’t much to it, but it is eminently enjoyable, and that’s something I don’t say very often about “Play That Funky Music”
And that’s all there is. A twenty two minute recording of what was a much longer show, and one that sounds as if it was going off. I would have loved to hear more, but alas this is all we get. Being short, it is easy to recommend this one, it takes no time to listen to, and even if people don’t like audience recordings it is only twenty minutes so there is no real time lost to give it a try. 2011 is an odd year for me personally, and an odd year in Prince’s live performances. Shows like this give a little light, and I only wish there were more like this one for us to enjoy. No doubt a great concert to be at, the recording too is a nice listen.
Finally, I would like to note the passing of Synnove Soe this week. Synnove was a good friend, and a strong supporter of this blog. You can see her comments on many of the posts here, and she would often message me directly on Sunday night to offer her verdict on the concert I had listened to, and my writing. She was, as my father would say, a straight shooter, and I always knew where I stood with her – she had opinions, and she wasn’t afraid to share them! I shall miss her terribly, she was a strong figure and a great mentor. She was also a kind and gentle friend. Rest In Peace Synnove.