The Revolution, Prince’s most famous band, tested the question of whether or not they could fill the deep vacuum left by Prince’s death in 2016. This year, the band, featuring Wendy Melvoin (guitar, vocals), Lisa Coleman (keyboards, vocals), Brown Mark (bass), Bobby Z (drums) and Matt Fink (keyboards) embarked on an experimental national tour which concludes in July.
Prince had a magnetic and powerful presence few artists can match — let alone, come close to — considering the sheer magnitude of his diverse, eclectic talents. However, in all show reviews, the critical response has been overwhelmingly positive and fans have embraced this conceptual homage to Prince. Loyal fans simply love and respect The Revolution and the contributions the band made to Prince’s musical artistry and signature sound.
The reaction to the recent sold-out show at The Wiltern was no different from the others. The crowd easily took to Melvoin and Brown Mark, who alternated on lead and co-vocals. Suzanne Melvoin, Wendy’s twin sister, and member of Prince’s other band, The Family, provided additional backup vocals and exhibited a playful, lighthearted demeanor onstage. Stokley Williams of the St. Paul R&B band Mint Condition, tore up the stage with his dynamic stage presence and sexy, confident swagger. Williams made Prince’s material his own keeping the integrity of the originals intact.
Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum of Princess, the well-known Prince cover band, made an appearance singing Prince’s “When You Where Mine,” popularized by Cyndi Lauper.
Sometimes, the exuberant screaming from the audience made the songs inaudible. The fans were so moved by the prospect of being as close to the spirit of a Prince humanly possible through the presence of The Revolution. The excitement washed over them in the form of mini Princemania.
There also were plenty of sing-a-longs where Brown Mark would point the microphone toward the audience and encourage them to join him. The fans hardly needed prompting or coaxing. They were ready and willing to sing in unison to all the song lyrics. Concertgoers were dancing and talking animatedly to one another as if sharing their favorite Prince memories.
Twenty-four songs in total, pre-Revolution and Revolution era material was featured prominently in the broad set. Among the songs included upbeat, party songs “1999” and “Raspberry Beret.” During “Raspberry Beret” Melvoin made a point to emphasize the continued relevancy of racial discrimination by repeating the politically charged lyrics slowly for effect.
She also spoke to the audience about sending out “smoke signals” to Prince while they performed “Paisley Park” — a song the band felt was fitting as “it was about him and the band in the balance, a place that fueled his creativity and hearing what made him feel good.”
Reconciling the loss of Prince further, Wendy and Lisa shared the spotlight together while performing the somber “Sometimes it Rains In April.” They co-wrote the song with Prince 30 years prior to his death.
The Revolution also showcased unreleased material from the famous vault playing “Our Destiny” and “Roadhouse Garden.”
Fittingly, “Purple Rain” closed this passionate and raw show. The night was packed with commercial hits and critically acclaimed material along with enough obscure cuts to satisfy the Prince aficionados in the audience. The two remaining encores ended the celebratory night on a high note. Fans got to connect and get close to the music of Prince and his band The Revolution on this stop of the North American tour. Bonding with like-minded music followers, they also go to go through the ongoing process of healing and grieving this essential and irreplaceable artist that was every inch: “The Star.”
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