|Eye Records / Purple Underground|
Catalog # 40-41-42-43-44-45
Release Year 2008
5CD Length 90:11 / 83:21 / 90:42 / 87:15 / 90:43
Date/Venue London, O2 Arena, IndigO2, 31st Aug 2007 & 1st,2nd,6th,7th,17th Sept 2007
Source Audience Recordings
Quality EX- / EX
(Click Here for the DVD Tracklist and Review)
Fink's Comments (rates this release 4.75/5.0)
This is a DVD/CD combination release. It should be noted they are not available separately and are housed in the same packaging and classed as one combination release. I actually rate both the recording and show included here of the 1st September main show rather highly. The show isn’t exactly exploring new depths of Prince’s musicianship, but for what it is, it’s a great crowd pleaser and pushes all the right buttons. The recording is superb and there’s barely a glitch or flaw worthy of mention – in actual fact, there isn’t a glitch or flaw worthy of mention for the entire 107 minutes. A few minor handclaps aside, it leaves zero to be critical about the quality is so pleasantly surprising that it easily grades as an EX audience recording. As mentioned previously, the show is a nice example of the London run, should anyone be looking for one of the better shows. The majority of expected “hits” are included, alongside other more surprising inclusions such as ‘The Question Of U’ (alas, instrumental only), ‘Strange Relationship’ in the piano medley, and a brief burst of ‘Head’ during the sampler medley. It’s a tight, fun, enjoyable show and an excellent recording – what’s not to like?
Disc 2 also includes highlights from both the 31st August and 6th September main shows and both are of equal excellence, perhaps not of the standard of the 1st September main show, but excellent recordings all the same. The 31st August portion is around 47 minutes long and mainly centers around the sampler and keyboard segments – always a good thing as this contains a stunningly rare performance of the unreleased ‘A 1,000 Hugs And Kisses’, along with the equally stunning, lengthiest version of ‘Sometimes It Snows In April’ of the entire London residency. Likewise the 20 minutes from the 6th September recording contain the brilliant piano segment which features rarities in the form of both ‘The Morning Papers’ and ‘Insatiable’. Disc 3 contains the complete 2nd September (am) 3121 aftershow and again it’s another excellent recording. The audience may be slightly vocal during the opening number, and there is some very slight movement during a couple of the songs, but overall it’s barely worth mentioning.
As good as it is, I’d have to admit the Sabotage recording slightly edges it on the quality stakes, however that’s no slight on this – just down to my personal taste. As to the show, it’s far from being one of the best, but has it’s moments. The opening ‘Let’s Go’ certainly sets the scene well for the opening few tracks, however the constant appearance by Shelby slightly takes the edge off the show (for me). That said, ‘The Chain’ (seemingly retitled to ‘Shadows And Chains’) is a nice little oddity and includes the guitar motif from ‘Kashmir’. The closing portion of the show is perhaps the most unusual choice of the show with Shelby taking over vocals for the Tamar-penned ‘Redhead Stepchild’ – first time played, and a real surprise. Overall not bad, but hardly memorable in relation to other 3121 aftershows. Staying with the Shelby theme, the 7th September (am) aftershow on Disc 4 features a mini-Shelby concert for the opening 36 minutes with Prince merely a bit-part player on guitar and backing vocals. Again, the recording is of an extremely high quality with a minor glitch during ‘Stratus’ along with some background crowd chitter-chatter on ‘Somewhere Here On Earth’ being all that’s worth passing comment on.
As with the previous aftershow, the quality is on a par with the Sabotage release, and it will perhaps come down to personal taste as to which you prefer. Prince’s set is highly unusual in the respect the opening 4 tracks reflect the opening 4 tracks from the ‘Planet Earth’ album, and a slightly shortened ‘The One U Wanna C’ aside, they are all full length performances. Disc 5 concentrates on the NPG’s aftershow set from the early hours of 1st September (am) and whilst Prince was present backstage, he doesn’t make an appearance during the show.
For my money I’d say that this recording doesn’t quite match the stunning excellence of either the Sabotage version, nor the O2verload recording, however that’s not being detrimental as this is another superb excellent recording, just not quite as excellent as the others. No matter, as it’s the least interesting content on here with Shelby’s powerhouse vocals on the closing few tracks really bringing it to life. Disc 5 concludes with 25 minutes from the London jazz club Pigalle with various NPG horn members along with an appearance by Beverley Knight playing with the house band. It’s a short and sweet set with the most obvious highlight being Ms. Knight’s version of ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’. The recording really doesn’t compare to the majority on this release and would grade as VG+ with more audience noise and a slightly grittier feel to it – good as it is, and that brings to a close this mammoth set encompassing Week #5 of Prince’s London residency.
The audio content of the 5 discs really is consistently sublime and I can’t fault anything on here., and many may very well be amongst the best of the many different sources in existence. Alas the video content on the DVD doesn’t match it and really is overall pretty shoddy work. However, as the audio content outweighs the video, then I can overlook the DVD on Disc 6 and say this is still a nice overview of Week #5. The packaging and artwork follow on the 3121.com theme from the previous releases from “Eye” and includes a high quality 14 page booklet containing 3121 Spy Reports.