Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas
First Appeared at The Music Box, December 2003, Volume 10, #12
Written by Michael Cooney
A few years ago, Prince announced that he had converted to the Jehovah’s Witness faith, and in accordance with his religious beliefs, he would no longer perform the more sexually explicit songs in his catalog. The Rainbow Children, his subsequent and most recent studio release, marked this seismic shift in his musical style as well as his personal convictions. Part Biblical and part Black Power, the album was a complex and, at times, confusing conceptual piece that musically delved deeply into funky jazz-fusion. When he embarked on a tour of small venues and gambling casinos in support of the effort, many critics and some longtime fans wondered if Prince’s best musical days were behind him.
Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas documents the final night of this tour, and it re-establishes Prince as one of the greatest live performers in the business as well as master of party funk. The changes in Prince’s stage presence are striking. He never alludes to his sexual prowess, nor does he remove any of his clothes as he had in the past, and it would seem as if the man who wrote songs like Head and Jack U off had finally grown up. He is now penning more serious fare about slavery and the evils of corporate America, and he has become a much stronger musician. Throughout the set, Prince and a stellar backing band featuring percussionist Sheila E, guest vocalist Nikka Costa, and legendary sax man Maceo Parker sweat through old-school funk jams complete with pumped up bass, wa-wa guitar, and an on-stage dance contest. Not surprisingly, the DVD is almost entirely comprised of new material, though the band sees fit to breathe new life into a handful of classics, most notably Take Me with U and Pop Life. There are a few low points, including a misguided cover of Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love, and Prince staples like Kiss and Purple Rain are sorely missed. Overall, however, Live at the Aladdin Las Vegas is a joyous, funk-filled celebration. It is Prince at his best. ˝
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2003 The Music Box