Although we didn't know it at the time, the last night of Prince's shows at the Dakota Jazz Club in Minneapolis served as a precursor to the Live Out Loud Tour he is currently on the road with. Joined by Donna Grantis, Ida Nielsen and Hannah Ford, Prince and 3rd Eye Girl performed a number of songs at their two Dakota shows that have become mainstays in the current tour's setlist.
Dakota VI captures the final concert of the amazing three night run in Minneapolis and, once again, the recording by Perks and enhancement by Confusion Records is superior to that of the Eye Records Dakota release. In fact, I would call this the best quality of any of the Dakota shows recorded, as well as my personal favorite show of the six. The difference here is in Prince's energy. He seems to let loose in this show, he is way more talkative than any of the other sets, and in a great mood throughout. Half the fun to me in listening to recordings of more recent Prince concerts is the banter from the stage. And there are some classic moments contained here.
The second show of January 18, 2013 starts off the same as the first with run-throughs of "Endorphinmachine" and "Screwdriver". The latter provides the first highlight of the night as we get an extended dialogue from Prince that I assume makes sense in his mind. He first tells the crowd that a song whose key line is 'I'm your driver and you're my screw' is "not what you think it's about." Then this gem follows. "This song is about the counter clockwise. Everybody thought the world was gonna end. Maybe it just started spinning in an opposite direction. Perhaps. Which way do race car drivers go? When you try to turn in a screw tight, which way does it go? It's kinda hard for left handers though, ain't it? Another question. Why is microwave food always hot just in the middle? Maybe you should ask your microwave. Question. Which way do the planets revolve? Clockwise? You're not as smart as you look!"
Things then slow down with "Beautiful Strange". As good as this recording is, you can hear a lot of talking in the audience on this one, to the point Prince even tells everyone upstairs to be quiet. I'll never understand people who go to a show just to babble through the entire thing. "Purple Rain" follows but the intro drags on for over four minutes before Prince starts singing, a real momentum killer. "Guitar" and "I Like It There" bring the energy back up with Prince even declaring, "I gotta clap for myself on that one!" after the latter.
Before an over 13 minute version of "She's Always In My Hair", Prince jokingly says, "Y'all are too young, you don't know my music. I haven't seen one old person in here yet." Liv Warfield is brought up onstage during this one to lead the audience in a sing-along but her vocal style really doesn't work at all with the bluesy rock breakdown the band is on. A killer version of "Dreamer" follows, definitely one of the night's highlights. The funky ending portion includes some improvised lyrics from Prince touching on calcified pineal glands and other such wacky things he finds while surfing the Internet.
As they did in the early show, the band does their instrumental cover of Jo Hamilton's "Liathach". I'm a big admirer of the original and love this version as well, with Prince featured on piano. I'm sure this would be considered the 'bathroom break' segment of the show to many, but it is a captivating listen. Prince then announces, "We'd like to do another ballad right now" before tearing into a near nine minute version of "Bambi". Despite Grantis being a little off on that last note, I'm still thrilled to see this returning to the set regularly. The less than exciting "Check The Record" and "Cause And Effect" close out the main set. These newer songs really can't hold a candle to the classics played, with "Cause And Effect" again going on way too long. A weak song doesn't gain from lengthy noodling. It is funny to hear Prince announce the band though, as he says, "On guitar, Donna. On bass, Ida. On drums, Hannah. On vocals, Prince-a."
The night ends with a rearranged, slowed down version of "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man". Warfield, Shelby J. and Elisa Dease join the band on backing vocals for this one, but don't really intrude on the performance as they too often do on Prince's arena shows. I love Prince's guitar work here and it's a perfect ending to the best of the six Dakota shows. Dakota VI is impressive in every way, from performance to sound quality, an absolute must own.