Prince fans have been spoiled over the last year with the high quality bootleg releases we've seen. Sparkling clear soundboard concerts, rehearsals and studio outtakes have been coming fast and furious. What we have here is the other side of the collecting coin. An audience recording from Prince's 1993 Act II Tour with The New Power Generation, recorded in Paris on August 31st.
Audience recordings can be all over the map. I've enjoyed some more than soundboards, simply because they can capture the atmosphere and electricity of the crowd better when done right. This is not a bad recording. Prince's vocals are very clear throughout, but the music is rather muddy and Prince's voice clearly sounds sped up. It's just at a higher pitch then normal, not quite reaching Alvin and the Chipmunks Land but obviously not pitched correctly on the tape. If I had to grade the sound quality here, I'll go with a solid C.
The other downfall of this release, no fault of The Factory Records who have put this release out, is how pedestrian this show is. Prince's Act II Tour came on the heels of his name change to that infamous unpronounceable symbol and marked the beginning of his all out war with Warner Bros. Records. It was his first tour since disowning the name 'Prince' and he declared this would be the last time he would be playing his hits live as they belonged to 'Prince', and that was no longer where he was at anymore. "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. I hate to do this, but for you I must" he proclaims before "Sexy MF". So what we have here is a rather bland set of hits, mixed with some of the songs off of his most recent release at the time, the 'Symbol' album.
There is nothing wrong with a show focusing on the hits per se. The Nude Tour is still one of my favorite tours of Prince's as he played full, and often rearranged and extended versions, of many of his most popular songs. But for Act II, he was starting to fall into the habit of fitting as many of his songs into Vegas-style medleys that are beneath him. The piano medley, in other tours a highlight, is even annoying here as Prince jumps from song to song within seconds. There is a complete lack of spontaneity to this show, very few extended jams or solos, with the guitar solo on "She's Always In My Hair" a rare exception. Even a near twelve minute version of "Purple Rain" fails to excite. On many shows during this tour, Prince would play new, unreleased songs as the encore, but on this night his encore consists of a medley of "1999" with "Baby I'm A Star" and a closing jam of "America" mixed with "D.M.S.R.".
This is supposedly a better source than the previous recording of this show, but do not let that fool you, this is still strictly for completists only. A very by the numbers show that never veers far from the basic setlist played on most nights of the Act II Tour.