Nothing Compares To Prince, no truer words have ever been spoken. But while nothing will ever compare, his family, friends and bandmates are paying homage in the most spectacular fashion, performing his life live on stage for us to enjoy. Orchestrated by Prince’s sister Tyka Nelson, this celebration of his music which spans decades was collaborated perfectly with musicians who have worked with the man himself over many years. Purple was the colour of choice, and varying shades could be seen in the packed house at Hamer Hall. Even one fan in a full purple gown complete with a purple umbrella happily posing for pictures.
With hundreds of songs to choose from I was keen to see how many tracks could be worked into the show, needless to say I lost count at around thirty. With an all-star band the show kicked off with 1999, St Paul Peterson (The Time), Shelby J and Liv Warfield belting out the tunes, I Wanna Be Your Lover and Controversy which had a funky bass solo by Nik West, she also had a funky mohawk to match! Tyka performed a moving song The Ladder, looking to the sky on many occasions. When Doves Cry a breathtaking inclusion which had everyone on their feet. Take Me Away With You/Raspberry Beret blended seamlessly almost to the point that you did not realise the song had changed until you were singing different lyrics. Cream was as sexy as always, then a medley of some of the songs Prince had turned his hand to writing, Manic Monday, Stand Back, Nasty Girl and Glamourous Life with drummer Queen Cora treating us to a fabulous solo showing she really is the Queen of the skins. The Most Beautiful Girl In The World was the only song Prince let somebody else produce and arrange, and it was none other than keyboard player Ricky Peterson. Ricky was clearly the glue binding this show together, a master of the keys and a true professional on every level.
After a brief interval it was time for a slowed version of Let’s Go Crazy, I really enjoyed their interpretation with an intense bass line that married perfectly to the song. Guitarists Jellybean Johnson and Tori Ruffin outstanding all night, it was clear from the get go that they had worked with and knew Prince personally, it radiated not just from them but through their music. Sign ‘O’ The Times and a mash up of Sexy M.F. and Kiss blowing the captivated audience away, or maybe it was the splits that Nik delivered at the end, either way it was pretty awesome! Jellybean left his guitar for a stint on the drums while BK Jackson, one of the amazing brass trio took to the crowd for a song, his partners in crime, Adrian Crutchfield and Lynn Grissett taking care of business on stage in spectacular fashion.
Little Red Corvette was clearly a fan favourite, Liv Warfield leaving nothing in the tank. Cassandra O’Neal and keyboard extraordinaire sang a beautiful ballad, with collective sighs from the audience as she mentioned Prince’s name, then St Paul and Shelby J had the tears flowing with Nothing Compares 2U, a truly memorable moment, a fabulous tribute to the great man himself. Lifting the tempo back up I would Die For You and Baby I’m A Star blazed out with the audience dancing in their seats and taking over the vocals at every opportunity. While I haven’t mentioned every song I am sure you will agree it was a show of hit after hit after hit, but one was still missing although I had a good idea that it would be the closer of the night. After a brief break this sensational group of musicians were back with Tkya in tow to finish out the night with the one and only Purple Rain, while Tyka was overcome with emotion, St Paul stepped in to take over the vocals and together this cohesive unit sang to the captivated audience. If your eyes weren’t welling up earlier they sure were now, such emotion and love for Prince flowed, his brilliance ever present in every word of every song.
While two years have passed since we lost this amazing icon his legacy will long live on through his music for generations to come. With his family and friends celebrating it the best way they know how, by bringing his songs to the people keeping this musical genius forever in our hearts.
Review Contributed by Cassandra Hale