As Prince's Live Out Loud Tour with his new backing band 3rd Eye Girl comes to a close, bootlegs of the month long run of West Coast shows are finally starting to surface, starting with this one thanks to The Professor and the good folks at Da Bang who enhanced the recording. D.N.A.L.O.L - 23-2 captures the second show of April 23, 2013 at the DNA Lounge in San Francisco. And as someone who has been relatively bored by Prince's live shows for some time now, this is a revelation.
The Live Out Loud Tour focuses mostly on much of the rock material in Prince's vast catalog. It is perfect for the stripped down band of Donna Grantis on guitar, Ida Nielsen on bass and Hannah Ford on drums. It is also perfect for long-time fans who have grown sick of the hit and medley heavy arena shows Prince has been doing for some time now. Prince has a guitar in his hand almost the entire night, except for when he moves to piano for a couple songs, and he is the only one onstage singing, a welcome respite from the female backing singers he lets overtake his arena shows way too often lately. It is a tour designed for the diehards and judging from this recording, it delivers.
Although there is a basic setlist and a number of songs are played in each show, there is enough of an element of surprise to keep things interesting. Some rarely performed songs have been pulled out for this tour, and this show has a couple examples. Thankfully for an audience recording, The Professor delivers here with a very clear sounding show. Prince's vocals are very clean and prominent, the guitar work is mind blowing, it is only slightly bassy at times but an excellent audience recording overall.
As for the show itself, it starts with the new re-working of "Let's Go Crazy" which has been slowed down to a fuzzy rocker complete with a segment from the Edgar Winter Group's "Frankenstein". This heads into one of my all time favorites, "Endorphinmachine" and I can even overlook some of Prince's slight lyrical changes as it is so good to have this song in his live show again. "Screwdriver" starts with the studio version playing over the speakers as Prince asks the audience, "Do you mind if we lip-synch a little bit? Everybody else does it!" before the band kicks into the rest of the song.
An over nine minute version of "She's Always In My Hair" and a slowed down "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man" are sandwiched around the band's instrumental take of Jo Hamilton's "Liathach". This is all an outstanding segment, but there are so many highlights in this show you can't single out just one. A jaw dropper, however, is the rarely performed "When We're Dancing Close And Slow", here presented as a sultry, slow burner. Even more shocking is Prince still singing some of the racier lines. I certainly wasn't expecting Jehovah's Witness Prince to sing the line "I want 2 come inside of U" ever again. And I guess the "Baby U need 2 bleed" line in "Bambi" is still acceptable as well. Shhh, don't tell Larry Graham.
The new "2Y2D", for "2 Young 2 Dare", is another high point here. The studio version is much more of a funk/soul track, but it works well as a rocker too. Hopefully this song sees release some time soon as it is among a handful of songs Prince has previewed that are some of his strongest new material in years. The main set closes with covers of Tommy James and The Shondells' "Crimson And Clover" and "Let's Go" by The Cars. But the night was not over just yet.
The remainder of the show is filled up by the infamous Sampler Set. For a show so dominated by real music, this seems a silly way to close out the concert, but it also seems like a way for Prince to appease those who might be disappointed by the lack of many of his biggest hits from the main set. Still, the 15 minutes would be better filled with a couple more songs from the full band, Lord knows Prince has enough to choose from. Ida does at least join him on "Alphabet St." during this Sampler Set, and he does play a short teaser of The Family's "The Screams Of Passion", but I still don't get someone who brags about "real music by real musicians" finding this an acceptable way to end a concert.
Even the inclusion of the Sampler Set can't derail this show however. Prince hasn't sounded this inspired live in at least a decade, fans of his guitar work will be in heaven, and D.N.A.L.O.L - 23-2 brings it all to you in an excellent audience recording. Definitely a must have release and a big thank you again to all those responsible for bringing it to the collector's community.