(Above: The Revolution at Paisley Park on Friday. Photo by Steve Parke/Paisley Park Studios)
A sign of how well they know Prince’s musical instincts — even 30 years after they last played with him as a group — Wendy Melvoin and her bandmates in the Revolution unknowingly rehearsed the song “Paisley Park” with much the same spin Prince put on it for his last concert at the place he named after it. Melvoin only realized the similarities Thursday when she saw a video of her friend’s final hometown show.
“I said, ‘Oh God, I told you guys we had to do it!’” the Revolution guitarist told the Celebration crowd packed into the Paisley soundstage, where Prince’s “Purple Rain”-era band gave their first of two concerts Friday, the anniversary of their friend’s death.
Hard to believe it, but it was actually the Revolution’s first time playing Prince’s mega-studio in Chanhassen, which opened in 1987 right around the time the band dissolved. Unlike their emotionally raw reunion concerts at First Avenue in September, Melvoin and her bandmates — drummer Bobby Z, bassist Mark Brown and keyboardists Lisa Coleman and “Dr.” Matt Fink — kept Friday afternoon’s set squarely in the “celebration” category. They left out more heartbreaking fare like “Sometimes It Snows in April” and stuck to many of the most funked-up tunes, such as “DMSR,” “Let’s Work” (click for a clip), “Erotic City” and “Controversy” along with the must-do hits, including “1999,” “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Raspberry Beret” and “Purple Rain.” Perhaps to add a spark of unpredictability around their upcoming tour dates, they also threw two 1984-era unreleased songs, “Our Destiny” and “Roadhouse Garden.”
They saved “Purple Rain” for the end and let the 1,000-plus fans bask in the purple lighting glow and “woo-hoo” outro. “You’re going to sing this for him, right?” Melvoin asked at the beginning. As the song came to its lilting end, she whispered into the mic, “Good night, sweet man.”