We have seen a long series of gigs in Europe, in a move that was somehow surprising: after the European tour of 2010, many people expected a long tour in the US, expanding after the winter gigs in New York and Los Angeles, among others. Yet possibly the, ahem, limited success of the last shows in LA prompted Prince to return to Europe, where his followers seem to be more interested in attending massively his live performances.
And what was more striking, there are many fans -including yours truly- which consider that the European Welcome 2 America summer gigs have been the most successful tour since ONA. Of course I am speaking both about commercial success and also musical success: the 21 Nights in London was already a resounding success in economic terms. But the music quality was, in my opinion, non comparable to some of the performances from last summer in Europe. And in particular, I'd like to stress the sheer quality & inspiration of the second show at Melkweg, followed by the second and third shows at the North Sea Jazz Festival. These three shows, together with the fantastic "standard" show done at Perugia, evidenced, even to the most exigent among hardcores, that Prince remains the king onstage, no matter what they say.
But I won't discuss today the quality of those shows: I discussed in detail Melkweg 2Night, and there are plenty of comments around the net praising the North Sea Jazz performances. Now is time to listen quietly the recordings that surfaced from this tour, and there's plenty of stuff to enjoy, even if you want to restrict your listening pleasure to one-off shows. The big news in Princeland is, by now, that we are seeing two bold landmarks in the world of video: first, we had an absolute premiere in the shape of the first Blu ray releases, made by fans for fans: the three performances at the North Sea Jazz festival were captured by a number of fans with different devices, providing enough material to cover pretty much the whole shows. And then other fans managed to carefully combine the videos with audio recordings, assembling the very first Blu-ray DVDS ever released in Princeland, as no official or unofficial labels had entered this territory before. Only by having a quick look at the material, which includes magnificent HD footage, excellent audio recordings, and fully professional artwork, you will realize that this is one of the strongest statements from fan labels; they have often demonstrated a tremendous level in previous releases, but in this case they have outdone themselves with a set which is a model for both official and unofficial labels. Chapeau! to Love or Money, Uci & Confusion for their truly impressive work: this is pure art, from fans, for fans, no money involved.
But wait, there's more: if North Sea Nights was not enough, we have recently seen another unexpected release, this time from a commercial bootlegs label: the very praised performances of Prince at the Montreux Festival 2009 were professionally filmed, and there were countless rumours about a supposed official release on DVD. Yet for unknown reasons, such official release never saw the light of day. And right when many people had forgotten any hopes, we have seen first the release of the soundboard audio recordings of the shows, and now, the pro-shot DVDs have also been released by a (ahem, ahem) new label of theoretically Japanese origin.
Anyway, regardless of the label, these DVDs contain stunning material: the Montreux 2009 shows had been widely acclaimed by many fans, in all justice in my opinion. Now we are lucky to watch in very good quality the actual performance, and it is a real pleasure. Sure: Prince was, at the time, in no perfect physical shape, but still he managed to entertain a discerning crowd who was enjoying every track, from massive hits to boutique songs, beautifully played with a fantastic band (including my beloved golden-handed Renato Neto and the grooving machine of John Blackwell).
I really can't understand how these DVDs failed to be officially released, as Prince fans and connoisseur music lovers alike are goint to love it, and it would have been a perfect time to show to the music world how big a performer is Prince. But I guess the same reasoning goes to the lack of Musicology official DVDs, or the lack of 21 Nites in London official DVDs...
Now we only need new music to top it all; after a good tour, after stunning one-off shows filled with mojo, after amazing video releases... it would be the perfect occasion to be surprised, anyday, with a brand new album released in the net, for fans, from the heart.
Daydreaming is for free, you know...