Dakota V is the second release to come out after the Eye Records Dakota Diaries set and, with all due respect to Eye, this recording again blows theirs out of the water. Confusion Records has captured the third night of Prince's run at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis beautifully with this release and Dakota VI which I will review in the near future. This was the night I was most looking forward to hearing as it was the debut of his 3rd Eye Girl backing band and the rock oriented setlist is one I've been hoping to see from Prince for quite some time, breaking away from his hits heavy usual live show.
Dakota V captures the early show of January 18, 2013 and is the release you need to get to hear this in the best quality. For an audience recording this is superb, very clear and rich. Yes, it is impossible to completely avoid some of the audience conversations, especially in quieter moments, but there is no one talking incessently through the show to ruin the taping. Soundboards are great, but I always love a fantastic audience recording that gives you the feeling of being there in the crowd the night of the show and Dakota V does that perfectly. Major credit to Perks for capturing this historical night and to Confusion Records for the enhancement.
As for the set, things start out with an assault of guitar heavy tracks beginning with "Endorphinmachine", still one of my favorite rock tracks Prince has ever recorded. The new "Screwdriver" melds perfectly into the set of older material, it's one of those songs that is even better live than the studio version. "When You Were Mine", "Guitar", "I Like It There" and "She's Always In My Hair" continue the early onslaught of energy and stripped down rock that 3rd Eye Girl bring in the first half of the show.
Everyone gets a chance to take a breather next as the band slows it down for an instrumental cover version of the beautiful "Liathach" by the British artist Jo Hamilton. Prince moves to the piano for this one and it's a wonderful performance, certainly a surprise in the middle of the set, the kind of out of left field surprise I love to hear at a show. Prince then asks the crowd if they want to hear an old or new song before ripping into an over 12 minute long version of "Bambi". I especially dig the breakdown halfway into the song where he gets the crowd to chant 'all your lovers', it's a cool extended version of a classic track.
The show loses a bit of steam with the new "Check The Record" followed by "Cause And Effect" which goes on entirely too long. This was a mediocre song to begin with and a 14 minute live version isn't going to change that. Thankfully "Beautiful Strange" helps put things back on track. Prince then returns to the piano for a solo version of "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore" before the girls return for "Purple Rain". This is a frustrating performance of the song as Prince stays on piano and adds some really cool parts while Donna Grantis handles the guitar work. It has a lot of promise to be a new take on a song we've heard endlessly since 1984, but after singing the first verse things dissolve into some noodling on the piano and the performance just kind of fizzles out. Prince tells the audience to "Tell all your friends about us so we can get another job" after "Elephants & Flowers", before the night ends with the funk/rock of "Dreamer".
As the best document of this show, Dakota V is a must have release. The sound quality is superior, the set is much more interesting than the majority of Prince's recent shows and it marked the debut of 3rd Eye Girl. Yes, the band can sound a little sloppy and overly noisy at times, but that is to be expected in a debut show. I'm curious to see how this line-up will sound after their forthcoming Live Out Loud tour gets underway. I'll take the energy and focus on Prince and guitar that this show has over the cover and hits heavy live set Prince has been coasting on for ages now.