London – Planet Earth (Godfather GR 232/233)
O2 Arena, London, England – September 13th, 2007
Disc 1: UK Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame intro, Let’s Go Crazy, 1999, I Feel For You, Controversy, Shhh, Musicology, Prince & The Band, Ali Blues, What A Wonderful World, Your Song, What A Wonderful World pt2, Little Red Corvette, I Would Die 4 U, Under The Cherry Moon (instrumental), Love Is A Losing Game, Satisfied, Diamonds & Pearls, The Beautiful Ones, Sometimes It Snows In April, Cream, U Got The Look, Take Me With U, Guitar, Kiss
Disc 2: Purple Rain, Long & Winding Road, Crazy, Nothing Compares 2 U, If I Was Your Girlfriend, loops section intro (including Bennie & The Jets), Sign ‘O’ The Times, When Doves Cry, Alphabet Street, DMSR, Darling Nikki, Raspberry Beret, A Love Bizarre, Chelsea Rodgers. Bonus tracks, London, UK, Indigo2, September 9th, 2007 aftershow: What Is Hip, Peach / Rock Me Baby, Peach Jam, Love Changes, Sweet Thing, Girls And Boys (incl. Miss You)
Prince’s residency at the O2 Arena is one of the more unusual spectacles in recent memory. It certainly was successful. The Gigwise website reported: “Prince’s O2 Arena residency has been voted as the best British concert of the year, controversially ahead of Led Zeppelin’s reformation show this month. The Telegraph deemed that ‘nothing in British music history has come close to Prince’s run of 21 live shows at the O2 arena.’ A pretty bold statement we’re sure you’ll agree! The Zep’s Ahmet Ertegun’s tribute concert at the very same venue came in at second place, with newspaper saying that they were ‘blown away’ by the sheer spectacle.” These shows ran from August 1st to September 21st. Played “in the round” on a stage shaped like Prince’s symbol, it guaranteed a good view for the spectators. The September 13th show occurs by the end of this series. The sound quality is excellent given the acoustics of the venue. There is a huge echo surrounding the music but there is significant detail and there is a really nice live sound. There are no cuts and it presents the concert in its entirety.
Prince presents a massive show with hits from his thirty year career, mostly played in segues, medleys and references. It is a two hour onslaught of funk, metal, jazz, and everything else thrown in. The show begins with comments from his induction into the UK Rock And Roll Hall of Fame, where some of the more modest comments claim that he can do it all and that he is among the greatest artists. “London. I am here. Where are you?” The opening salvo consists of the expected hits “Let’s Go Crazy,” “1999,” “I Feel For You,” and “Controversy.” “Musicology” segues into “Prince & The Band” with Prince asking the audience “is my band tight or what?” That song contains the full three verses and is followed by Miles Davis’ “All Blues.” “What A Wonderful World” contains an interlude of Elton John’s “Your Song” played, no doubt, since he was there. This is the first of a “piano interlude.” The songs listed in the piano set including “Little Red Corvette,” “I Would Die 4 U,” and “Under The Cherry Moon” are merely hinted at and not played in full.
The main set picks up again with “Cream.” “Guitar” contains a long solo where Prince shows his chops. “London! Oh my goodness. What shall we do? We got too many hits. Let me see. Do you want to hear ‘Raspberry Beret’? ‘Sign O’ The Times’?… We ran out of hits” he says before “Kiss.” The set closer is an eight minute rendition of “Purple Rain.” Prince leaves the stage for three minutes (edited from the tape) before returning with Elton John. They play a ragged version of “The Long & Winding Road” with Elton taking the vocals and a jazzy, Vegas style interlude. After “If I Were Your Girlfriend” the “synth” set begins with a snippet of “Bennie & The Jets.” Similar to the piano section, the songs listed are snippets played in a medley. The show closes with full versions of “A Love Bizarre” and “Chelsea Rodgers.”
After many of the shows Prince played an “aftershow” set at the IndigO2, which is part of the Arena. Many of these shows lasted longer than the O2 gig. Godfather include several songs from the September 9th aftershow that lasted for two and a half hours, ending about 3am. It is a small club atmosphere but the tape is very clear and enjoyable, and it is amazing to consider the inhuman amount of energy Prince has to play these long sets. It is a shame only a fraction of the set is included (maybe Godfather could have issued this as a three disc set??), but the highlights include a long “Peach Jam” and a nine minute “Girls And Boys” that includes a bit of “Miss You.” This is packaged in a tri-fold cardboard gatefold sleeve with many photographs from the set of shows at the O2 Arena. This release serves as a reminder of Prince’s formidable force as a live act, and with the excellent sound quality makes this a potent document from the Earth tour.If you liked this review, buy me a cup of joe. (Suggested: $3 a shot or $7.5 for a double)