(Moonraker 093/94)

If forced at gunpoint to select my single favorite Prince live boot (and please, let's not let it come to that), I might have to go with Livesexy, an '88 tour show that finds the Artist finally having to resort to the "mega-medley" approach that has characterized his major-tour setlists ever since. By this point, he'd written and released so many kick-ass songs that the only way to get a satisfying cross-section of them into a given show was to start chopping 'em up and mashing 'em together … either that, or play for like 15 hours … which I can't say for sure he never did.

And while Prince's NPG bands have always been tight, there's a certain Vegas-y tightness to it that seems too rigid to my ears … on Livesexy, however, there is still a whole lot of passion and looseness to the proceedings, and on this particular night, Prince not only sounds absolutely jubilant to be performing, but he also sounds like he has something to prove. And he gives back to the audience in a huge way, as opposed to the standard "Are you ready to rock??!?" stuff.

It helps that this was the age of Sign O' the Times, Lovesexy, and the Black Album – certainly as fertile a crop of songs as he's ever had to draw from. Wonderfully, he doesn't dip into Purple Rain at all until the encores, and throughout sticks to some of his sunniest material, making for a joyful event all around. Highlights include a long and winding "When U Were Mine" (which takes a phenomenal bluesy detour), a really raw "Little Red Corvette," and a great one-two punch of "Bob George" (which makes much more sense live) into "Anna Stesia" (this version holds up incredibly better than the somewhat dated-sounding studio version).

Some wonderfully refreshing choices, too: "Glam Slam," "Jack U Off," "Dance On," "Starfish & Coffee," and "Venus de Milo" (marking the gradual disappearance of Parade material from the sets for a good long while). The latter part of the show finds some seriously intense (yet still sunny) renditions of ("The Cross," "Condition of the Heart"), and an all-out party with five straight housequakers at the end, culminating in a head-exploding "Alphabet Street."

There would be great shows after this one, certainly. But I can't think of a disc that more broadly and viscerally explains why Prince rules the planet … even if sometimes it's only the planet of his mind.

Tracklist: Escape · Erotic City · Housequake · Slow Love · Adore · Delirious · Jack U Off · Sister · Adore · I Wanna Be Your Lover · Head · A Love Bizarre · When You Were Mine · If I Had a Harem · When U Were Mine · Little Red Corvette · Controversy · Dirty Mind · Superfunkycalifragisexy · Bob George · Anna Stesia · Cross the Line · Poem · I No · Lovesexy · Glam Slam · The Cross · I Wish U Heaven · Kiss · Dance On · Drum Solo by Sheila E. · When 2 R in Love · Venus de Milo · Starfish and Coffee · Raspberry Beret · Condition of the Heart · Strange Relationship · When 2 R in Love · Let's Go Crazy · When Doves Cry · Purple Rain · 1999 · Alphabet Street

Review by La Fée