Concert Review: The Revolution Celebrates Prince’s Legacy at ACL Live: reunited group pay tribute to their founder at Austin performance.
“Shall we begin? Yes Lisa.”
Those infamous spoken word lyrics to Prince and The Revolution’s Computer Blue kicked off The Revolution’s set this weekend at Austin’s ACL Live.
Prince’s legendary backing band have reunited and taken to the road in tribute to their late founder, and it was a moving and celebratory dance party for all that attended.
The band, featuring original members Wendy Melvoin, Lisa Coleman, Bobby Z, Brown Mark and Matt Fink wowed the crowd with a deep dish of His Purple Majesty’s classic hits and deep cuts.
In many ways the show seemed like a daring experiment: how does one put on a Prince show without Prince? The answer could have been opportunistic or deeply misguided, but in the hands of such dynamic musicians we never should have worried–his spirit was felt and honored throughout the entire scorching set.
The handling of vocal duties shifted throughout the night–Melvoin and Mark often traded vocals on tracks like Mountains, Raspberry Beret and America, in-between shredding on guitar and bass (respectively), while guest vocalist Stokely Williams (Mint Condition) lent his smooth falsetto on high-energy hits including Let’s Go Crazy, When Doves Cry and I Would Die 4 U.
Melvoin weaved storytelling throughout the show, telling the audience they could visit Prince’s Paisley Park studio complex through his music if they couldn’t make the trek–before launching into the candy-colored psychedelic number of the same name.
She also encouraged the audience to help her sing a beautiful and soulful rendition of Sometimes It Snows In April. It was an emotional moment, and for good reason. Not only does that song meditate on death, but it references the very month he passed away.
Many in the crowd were openly moved–and it was the lone moment when they stopped dancing, lending the solemnity required to a track that ended with Melvoin crooning: all good things, they say, never last/And love, it isn’t love until it’s past.
Everyone in the group had their moment to shine–Melvoin’s incendiary guitar chops were on full display, while Coleman and Fink (wearing his patented surgeon scrubs) weaved funky sonic textures with their syncopated synths. And Mark was a man in constant motion, slapping his bass with as much effort as his fancy footwork. And throughout it all Bobby Z’s provided the group’s kinetic, pulsing heartbeat.
Elsewhere the group referenced the turbulent times of the day (with synapse-frying precision on America, 1999 and Controversy). The set was appropriately Purple Rain centric, including the slinky Let’s Go Crazy B-side Erotic City and a chill-inducing take on the soundtrack’s title track, which had the crowd doing their best to match Prince’s euphoric falsetto crescendo.
The band covered pretty much every vintage Prince hit they were associated with, with the curious exception of Little Red Corvette, and controversial gem Darling Nikki, but that’s nitpicking. The crowd was enraptured and smiling throughout–it was one of the most genial audiences I’ve ever been a part of.
The Revolution’s performance served as a joyous party, poetic tribute and moving musical eulogy to the man who was their creative nucleus. While his presence is irreplaceable, they did more than do him justice, while shining a light on how their inventive musicianship helped fuel his genius and bring their collaborative vision to life.
Revolution ACL Set List:
Take Me With U
Our Destiny / Roadhouse Garden
Sometimes It Snows in April
Let’s Go Crazy
When Doves Cry
I Would Die 4 U
Baby I’m a Star