We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called “life”
Electric word, life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else
Prince Rogers Nelson, the purple prophet, died a year ago in his beloved Minneapolis. His band The Revolution was formed in 1979 and played on best-selling albums “1999” (1982), “Purple Rain” (1984) and “Around the World in a Day” (1985), before breaking up in 1986. They first reunited on September 1, 2016, to honor the untimely passing of their irreplaceable leader, at First Avenue, the club where the “Purple Rain” film’s concert scenes were shot. This month, they’ve launched a US tour, following a four-day Paisley Park event called Celebration 2017.
The Revolution, “the last band Prince was ever IN,” one noted, is Wendy Melvoin (who joined in 1983 at age 19) on rhythm guitar, Lisa Coleman and Matt (Doctor) Fink (still wearing scrubs) on keys, Mark Brown/Brownmark on bass (sucking on a lollipop with a scarf on his mic), and Robert (Bobby Z) Rivkin, the petite (5’3”) singer’s drummer since 1979. Capable lead guitarist Rob Bacon joined them throughout, as Stokley Williams (of St. Paul R&B band Mint Condition) lent his fly falsetto and Motown moves on some songs, while all took turns on vocals, trying to fill the noticeable void.
Many greatest hits were played, and Wendy, no longer sporting lacy glam and teased hair, but glasses, jeans and flat brown boots, asked the audience to sing along on most tunes, noting that we could get through collective grief together by joining in on his songs.
They rocked the enthusiastic, sold out crowd through many hits, including “Raspberry Beret,” “1999,” “Take Me With U,” “When Doves Cry,” “Purple Rain,” “Kiss,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” and “I Would Die 4 U” as an encore.
Wendy and Lisa alone sang “Sometimes It Snows in April,” which they wrote and recorded with Prince on April 21, 1985, 31 years to the day before his death.
“I’m sure he’s found the answer to all the Minnesota April snow,” Wendy said. She also had an “Adele moment” when she restarted a song, acknowledging her wanting to do his work complete justice.
The sale of six previously unreleased Prince songs, an EP titled “Deliverance,” timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of his death, has been stopped by the singer’s estate for the time being. But you can see his faithful collaborators on a recently extended tour, currently scheduled through July 15 in Seattle.
A prolific musician, even post-mortem, Prince is also remembered and missed for his fierce personhood, his proud proclamation that gender fluidity is more than OK; it was creative and human, also personified in 2016 ‘s other musical losses, George Michael and David Bowie.
Prince was the package deal. His purple badness, who died of a drug overdose, once wrote:
Pills and thrills and daffodils will kill
Hang tough children…
Are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?
Oh, no, let’s go!
And so we will. Goodnight, sweet Prince, and may the Revolution continue to rock thee to thy rest.