I almost can’t believe it happened. I spent so much time worrying about last minute cancellations (with bobby z’s heart you never know. We saw some fire engines heading for a building and that was the first fear that came to mind but it wasn’t our building and it didn’t appear to be on fire).
Lots of people wearing old tour t-shirts and mostly older and white but a good amount of blacks (my dad thought it might be nearly all black- that was the case when I saw Morris Day and The Time but that was an R&B festival where they were the headliner). One woman I saw in the orchestra area was wearing a raspberry beret and we tried to get a picture from our seats with little success- a hand flew up during one attempt and the 3 of us were dying laughing.
I got decent seats on the mezzanine level that could’ve been better because there were heads partially blocking our view (sorry for my sister who had two ladies stand in front of her for the second half of the show). But I got an eyeful full of Lisa pretty much the whole show and plenty of brown mark and bobby z. Wendy was hit and miss and Dr. fink was mostly miss. But having Lisa right there was comforting. And when I saw everyone I could see them well with their faces so familiar.
Brown Mark took the lead early on which was really cool. He’s the member of the group I really knew the least about mainly because he had no lines in Purple Rain. I only recently found out that he made pancakes for Prince at the request of his girlfriend who was also working there.
Wendy took lead the other half of the time and for a handful of numbers, a guest performer (usually they were strings of 3-4 songs and he’d disappear for a while and come back). His name was Stokley and he sang lead for certain songs where Prince sang lead and they were one man band efforts. He was good and tried to get the crowd pumped and keep them pumped with shout-outs- the oh wee ohs made me think they might do “it’s gonna be a beautiful night”- they never did but that’s ok. And it should be said that he was no substitute for the real thing- not even close but I appreciated the effort. Some die-hard fans more in love with Prince than I am (and I love him a lot) probably didn’t appreciate it but at least he didn’t attempt any bedroom ballads- that was the only thing missing from the set which is self explanatory.
The first song was “Computer Blue” and I recognized it from the first drum beat and I lost my freaking mind. The rest of the crowd did when they opened with the Wendy and Lisa intro. Brown Mark sang lead. I can’t remember if they did 2 verses or 1 I think they did both but they did the extended version of the Father’s song section which was cool (maybe that’s how the remaster went- I still haven’t gotten it- but I am still on the gold experience… that’s gonna be so awkward to get back to)
And they did the “la la las” section from the movies band rehearsal scene. And it ended when Lisa said “chauvinistic computer it’s time someone programmed you” and with a bang.
They went into “America” and Id heard that this band kills but they didn’t go too long into it. The “boom” shout outs went on for maybe 3 extra minutes.
Again I lost my mind when they did “Mountains” because I said on twitter I’d love if they did it and I want to believe it’s because one of them saw my tweet (the band and Wendy and Lisa follow me although I don’t quite get why… at least with the band’s account I’d made a comment on a tweet and they answered me and followed after seeing I’d tweeted about going)
With Mountains the studio version is still better but it was still so cool hearing Lisa play the keyboards live . It was a personal highlight all the same.
Then Automatic and again lost my mind because it was unexpected. The keyboards and synths were so cool to hear live. But Bobby Z really went heavy on the cymbals on the last 30 seconds before the song wrapped up- it didn’t hurt my ears so much as the sound was like a very loud distorted hissing and I really hated that feeling. Thankfully that was the only song where that happened.
Take me with U was a lot of fun. And like the typical live performances brown mark had us sing the title when it came up. And hearing the hook coming from Lisa’s keyboards was another cool moment. I’m sure most fans had heard it before many times but it was my first time.
I think next was when Stokley came out the first time for a few songs and where my memory is starting to blur. I remember what songs were sung together but not so much when in the show they were.
His first song was Uptown (the only dirty mind track in the set) and he did all right.
This was the first moment of maybe 5 in the show where something in my body felt very off and I was fighting it off so my attention was a little divided. (I’ll only say that I could not get up for the bathroom in the middle of the show- couldn’t afford to miss anything).
Another weird thing that was happening during the 3rd-4th-5th song, around that point, I hadn’t screamed much at all, but my throat felt sore and I was coughing to try to fix it. Either it was another way that having eaten only an hour before came back at me or something else… it wasn’t like I was missing Prince terribly at that point.
Possibly- my mind was thinking that I might die after this concert is over because missing the opportunity was the only regret I was ever going to have at the end of my life. I regret never getting to see Prince or making that extra effort to try, but this is as close as it gets. So after the show I could drop dead and die happy.
But I recovered around the time they did Take Me with U.
Uptown was a nice addition and it went into DMSR which I always thought was a fully realized version of the last song. They did all the original lyrics opened it with having us say “dance” “music” “sex” “romance” and later we sang DMSR. A good attempt and having the original first 2 verses intact was great but I know this song would’ve blown up if Prince was here.
There were some moments later where the absence of Prince was much more obvious and I felt it or could still hear him but for the most part the band filled the void so well.
I think DMSR went into 1999 and we all lost it. Bobby Z had the linn drum hookup and everything and I wasn’t the only one doing Prince’s “2000 00” hand gestures from the video. My mom recorded some of it until her phone started dying. Despite the warnings on the screens beforehand people still had their phones out. Mine was off the entire time.
[my mom emailed to me so now I’ll always be able to look back on it]
But another highlight.
Wendy spoke for the first time and wanted this song to be for him and she told us the chorus so we could sing along. Paisley Park.
She messed up a lyric in the first verse- instead of the line that ends with “speaks with profound inner peace” she started the 2nd verse line of “he died without knowing forgiveness” and after she corrected herself and finished the line she apologized. I felt kinda bad but she was still professional about it. Brown mark had a mistake later where he tried to sing a lyric from a later verse on a different song. Other than that they were super tight as Prince taught them to be.
It was a nice interlude.
I think Controversy was next… it was hard not to pick it up from the opening drum beat. Brown Mark might have messed up a lyric on this song… but they did the first two verses- the first bridge, skipped the second one, and revisited the first and took it through to the end.
Wendy took the lead on raspberry beret and it was another crowd favorite. (The other day my sister said she heard it on the radio and recognized it- that was so cute and I hope she enjoyed it live)
Someone asked if Atlantic City was an Erotic City and I’m sure some of the older fans appreciated that.
Which reminds me that before paisley park and after Stokley left for a bit- Lisa took the lead and I didn’t know the song but I had a sneaking suspicion just before brown mark took the lead back that this was the previously unreleased Our Destiny/Roadhouse Garden and they took that moment to plug the new release (I’m kinda bummed they didn’t have copies for sale but I didn’t have enough for that and a tshirt which I had to get while I wax there. They were selling meet and greet passes and they were limited and they were $150- I couldn’t afford it and I didn’t want to ask my parents for the money after my dad took us out for a super nice dinner beforehand- I would’ve felt bad and considering my body’s situation I was glad I didn’t cuz I didn’t want to meet them while I’m out of sorts. Someone in line complained how expensive it was and that you could probably get the shirts on eBay. I don’t care if that’s true or not but it was annoying all the same)
Anyway- the inclusion of the “new” music was kinda cool. A little something for die hard or new fans who got the new set as their first album (I think most of the crowd were veterans who saw Prince many times- I’m not bitter or anything just stating a fact)
Stokley also took the lead on “let’s work” which might have been after erotic city. I shook my head to it as I always did (think Brenda and Susan’s sex shooter choreography). Another nice inclusion.
They did 23 songs, I think, and I remember them all, but not the exact order. But I remember which songs were coupled together.
They got a teaser of “Head” in there somewhere and that was the first time Dr. Fink was highlighted at all and he did that mad scientist crazy ass synth solo as well as he did it on record.
And I’m sure that was the song where everyone got a solo and they had the crowd chant “go [insert name here]”- Brown Mark killing that bass was, again, cool.
My favorite solo, though, was Lisa because it was so different. It got so atmospheric with a spotlight on her and she was doing these beautiful classical lines with such passion.
Then came the halfway point where everyone took a breather… except Wendy & Lisa.
Wendy gave a little intro before they both started “Sometimes it snows in April.” She changed a few words here and there to fit the situation. She and Lisa did such an amazing job. The harmonies on the chorus were clear as always. At towards the end was the first time I teared up all night.
My mom said that was one of the highlights for her as well.
The second half is pretty easy to remember as far as the songs and the order they went.
Not many songs left.
To pick up the mood… “Let’s go crazy”… and the synths were just as they were at the beginning of the movie. It wasn’t the extended version like in the movie, but everything else, they nailed like a well-oiled machine.
Then they went into “Delirious” which was cool hearing that synth hook live.
Stokley came back out and encouraged the ladies to sing along when he did “Kiss.” The band played it as Prince had done on the album. It wasn’t some dramatic reinterpretation.
Then “When Doves Cry”… of course, the studio version is gonna be more impressive because it’s all done by one guy, instruments and vocals. But they hit all the notes like the recorded version, although maybe not the guitar solo or the Linn-drum– that wasn’t entirely the same, but I forgave it.
Finally- Purple Rain. It was the five of them on stage again, all playing their own roles. Wendy took the lead. And then they all played the extended solo as if Prince was still there. There was no impressive guitar solo as he would do, they did their parts around him.
And we all did the sing-along chorus in the audience and it wasn’t as deafening as Captain had described it at one concert he went to (either the crowd wasn’t fully invested anymore or the acoustics in the place were better suited).
Again- I teared up a little, but I wasn’t a complete mess like I was seeing that scene in the movie.
And I swear I heard Prince do the final “oh oh’s” before the string section at the end.
I saw that as my opportunity for the bathroom and luckily nothing like the fears plaguing me throughout the show.
Then as I came back, I still heard music going and the doors were still open and we were able to go back in.
It’s conceivable that I had missed “I would die 4 U” because “Baby I’m a Star” was the final song… but if I had missed “I would die 4 u,” I could live with it. That’s a special song that I can only really hear Prince doing and seeing the movie performance was when I started to fall in love with him (the next song sealed the deal).
Stokley came out to sing lead on that and he did a decent job again. My mom and I were standing at the back just letting loose and dancing and it was the best time. I felt like one of the girls on the balcony in the movie. (And actually the seats in the back might have been the best in the house because you got a full view of the stage and everyone very clearly).
So the setlist, just for my own recollection– in case I put this into a playlist later.
1. Computer Blue
5. Take me with U
8. Our Destiny/Roadhouse Garden
10. Paisley Park
12. Raspberry Beret
13. Erotic City
14. Let’s Work
16. Sometimes it Snows in April
17. Let’s go Crazy
20. When Doves Cry
21. Purple Rain
22. I would die 4 U?
23. Baby I’m a star
with 2 from Dirty Mind, 2 from Controversy, 4 from 1999, 7 from Purple Rain (only Prince could ever do The Beautiful Ones or Darling Nikki), 2 from Around the World in a Day, 3 from Parade and 2 new Purple Rain tracks & a B-side.
I will come back to finish this post another time. Meanwhile… I have an album calling my name and another review to finish (minus the usual B-sides and unreleased tracks).
I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone from the band for doing an amazing job.
Bobby Z, Wendy, Lisa, Dr. Fink, Brown Mark- thank you so much for adding another east coast date to your tour so I could come see you. As someone who’s loved Prince for the past 10 years, this was the best tribute I could have asked for. I know we all miss him so much, but the way everyone came together and did their best by him, I feel now that we’re all going to be okay.
I’ve been to concerts and been totally awestruck and starstruck by the artists I came to see. (I hadn’t been to many, but the ones that come to mind was Jesse McCartney, Hall & Oates, and Morris Day and The Time).
This concert, I was super excited when everyone came out, but all I could feel the whole time- other than what it was hearing these songs live, the ones I expected to hear and some great surprises sprinkled in between- I felt like I was with friends. Old friends that I’d known a long time, but have never actually been in the same room with before. The Purple Rain album and Parade in particular- they’re among my favorites, I feel like they’ve been part of me for years and this is just an extension of that. It felt like coming home.
And to keep this feeling alive, I think Captain posted another podcast with two people who went to one of the concerts, so I might download that and listen tomorrow.
I swear- if I had gotten the opportunity to meet The Revolution, I would have asked them if they knew about the Peach and Black podcast and ask them to tour Australia because these guys really want them to. I mean, I spent the better part of Thursday at work thinking of what I’d ask each of them if I could, but that was something I always planned on if the opportunity came.
Oh well… maybe one day MC, Captain, Toejam and Player will get their wish granted…