The Revolution Reunion at First Avenue, 2/19/12

Prince and The Revolution
First Avenue, Minneapolis
Sunday, February 19, 2012

View a slideshow from the concert here.

Sure, it wasn't advertised as a Prince show. For many, the Revolution's First Avenue reunion was mainly about the nostalgia. It was great to see Bobby Z playing the drums again after a heart attack nearly killed him a year ago, and good vibes permeated Minneapolis' most iconic venue throughout last night's celebration of life. But Prince's songs just aren't anywhere near as good without The Purple One onstage singing them.

Wendy Melovin did an all right job playing guitar and singing lead, but nobody onstage last night can come close to approximating Prince's charisma and showmanship. And the rest of the band sounded as sloppy as you'd expect considering they haven't played together in a decade and only spent a day and some change rehearsing for last night's show.

The Revolution Reunion at First Avenue, 2/19/12
Photo by Steve Cohen

It was similar to watching the Blood on the Tracks Band play their annual gig in Dylan's hometown of Hibbing --  they're great tunes being played in a meaningful place by musicians who are intimately connected with them, but ultimately the show is missing its most integral component. You can't really do Dylan without Dylan, and you can't really do Prince without Prince.

Were heads nodding and feet moving? Yes. Was it great to hear "Purple Rain" and "1999" in that most appropriate of venues? Of course. Was it a fun nostalgic trip? No doubt. But was it a great show on its merits? Unfortunately, no.

Personal Bias: I absolutely love Prince. Watching him live is like watching a more eccentric, eclectic, modern-day James Brown. I also think a the Revolution is probably the best backing band Prince ever had. The energy in First Avenue during some of the '80s YouTube clips I've seen of Prince and the Revolution is absolutely off the charts. And thanks to an old neighbor named Tim who grew up and went to school with Prince, I understand that the Revolution is probably just as responsible for a lot of Prince's '80s hits as The Purple One himself is. But that's part of the reason last night's show was so revealing. It's one thing to write great songs, another to lead great live performances of said songs.

The crowd: Predominately middle-aged, as you'd expect. Lots of dancing. Eager with anticipation that Prince might show, but partying like it's 1999 one way or the other.

-- Controversy
-- Do It All Night
-- Party Up
-- Let's Work
-- Pop Life
-- America
-- 1999
-- Life Can Be So Nice
-- Mountains
-- anotherloverholenyohead
-- Baby, I'm a Star
-- Let's Go Crazy
-- Purple Rain
-- Uptown (G Sharp on lead vocals)

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