NEW YORK— Amidst the smoke, disco ball shimmer and bittersweet commotion that filled the murky hallways of B.B. King Blues Club, Friday night (April 28) saw The Revolution further cement the legacy of the very man behind the group's inception: the late, great Prince.
Anyone who followed the Purple Wonder during his genre-bending career knew of the five bandmates that stood beside the titan as he lit the industry on fire, particularly during the era of Purple Rain. Despite adjustments to the famed lineup, the essence of The Revolution has more or less remained intact throughout the years, so when his untimely passing made waves in April 2016, it set an almost necessary call to action for guitarist Wendy Melvoin, bassist Brown Mark, drummer Bobby Z and keyboardists Lisa Coleman and Matt "Doctor" Fink.
Seven days since the tour kickoff, which was appropriately scheduled on the one-year anniversary of his death, the five-piece took to the heart of Times Square for a 90-minute reunion show that delivered on all notes for longtime Prince devotees, with enough sentimental strides to create a set full of respect, honor, and pride. But this wasn't just a tribute show performed by the old crew, this was a concert with just as much willing participation from attendees to match the musicians, as noted by Wendy at the top of the show.
"This evening is only about you and you taking all of these songs back," she emphasized to the sold-out crowd. "We're playing them. You're going to wonder, 'What are they going to do? Who's going to do this? Who's going to sing that? Who's going to be that? Who's going to do this?' You guys are. We're the band. Okay? Enjoy the evening."
Sweeping through his discography, The Revolution made sure to hit (most of) the sweet spots as they kicked off their set with "Computer Blue," before running through favorites like "Raspberry Beret," "Let's Work," and "1999." Mid-show, they invited Mint Condition's singer Stokely Williams to help lead vocals, but it only further proved the individuality that Prince exuded over his material. Still, this night wasn't about efforts to replicate, it was about acknowledging a legacy that has forever changed the lives of so many.
Towards the second half of the show, The Revolution found a fitting way to incorporate "Sometimes It Snows in April," the cut off the soundtrack to Prince's 1986 film, Under the Cherry Moon, with Wendy noting that she and Lisa co-wrote the song with him on the same day of his death on April 21st many years ago. "We thought about how we were going to do a tour. What was our intention? What's going on here? It was because of coincidences like that that we were compelled to bring this stuff to you guys," she explained to the audience, heightening the emotion in the room. "He sits in all of us now. He's by which we measure our own greatness and potential."
Despite some weeping and brief pauses, Wendy and Lisa were able to pick things up and brought the party back to pace when they reassembled with their bandmates for closing hits "Let's Go Crazy," "Delirious," "Kiss," "When Doves Cry," and, of course, "Purple Rain."
But as sing-a-long chants grew stronger and the tears in venue dried up, the feeling of loss lingered once more when The Revolution left the stage, to only return for an all too appropriate encore medley of "I Would Die 4 U / Baby I'm a Star." 372 days had come and gone since Prince passed away, but what we were left with was a rich catalogue of songs that touched on the many dynamics of his artistry. In part, that left us with our very own responsibility to carry on his legacy and everyone in that B.B. Kings venue did just that.
Click here for more information on The Revolution's tour.
Photo: Getty Images