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Concert Reviews:
The Revolution celebrates Prince at the Majestic

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

Posted: Tuesday, May 23, 2017

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DETROIT -- “We’re here mainly to share the grief, the loss of him,” Wendy Melvoin of the Revolution told a full house at the Majestic Theatre on Saturday night, May 20.

But the group’s hour-and-50-minute show was more a celebration than a shiva, honoring the late Prince -- the “him” Melvoin referred to -- more than mourning him with a 24-song, greatest hits-dominated show that had the purple-attired partisans, including more than a few Prince lookalikes, partying like it was 1985. Or thereabouts.

“Detroit is like home to us,” Melvoin said after the show. “We really wanted to bring it tonight.” The Revolution did just that, triumphing over a dense, loud-to-a-fault sound mix with hot performances bolstered by precise song arrangements with tightly executed jam segments that illustrated just how much the group contributed to Prince’s music. With Melvoin and bassist Brown Mark sharing lead vocals -- along with Stokely Williams from Mint Condition -- and Detroit native Rob Bacon teaming with Melvoin on guitar, the Revolution recreated the classics with a funky ferocity that rivaled their heyday of 30-odd years ago.

Most notably the group played most of the songs in their entirety rather than the truncated, medley-ized versions Prince deployed back in the 80s. And it dug deep for some non-hit gems, including the opening “Computer Blue” from “Purple Rain,” “America,” Mountains,” “Automatic,” a pairing of “Our Destiny” and “Roadhouse Garden,” and the B-side favorite “Erotic City.” “Let’s Work” and “Controversy” morphed into lengthy jams, the former sporting a bass break by Brown and the latter featuring solos by Melvoin, Bacon and keyboardist Matt Fink.

Melvoin and keyboardist Lisa Coleman, meanwhile, had to interrupt their hushed, emotional version of “Sometimes It Snows In April” while security guards attended to a young fan who’d passed out, but finished the song once she was revived.

And the hits, well, nearly blew the roof off the Majestic, as they should. “Uptown” and “D.M.S.R.” were taught and funky, “1999” and “Raspberry Beret” buoyant and spirit-lifting. And the closing run of “Let’s Go Crazy” (sans the ending guitar solo), “Delirious,” “Kiss,” a powerhouse “When Doves Cry,” “Purple Rain” -- with Melvoin playing her own truncated take of Prince’s legendary guitar solo -- and the encore “I Would Die 4 U”/”Baby I’m A Star” was a breathless delight that inspired its own kind of delirium from the Majestic crowd. (A nice post-encore touch; The late Chris Cornell’s version of Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” played over the PA.)

Nothing, of course, can replace Prince, and the Revolution clearly didn’t try. But on Saturday it delivered his songs with a passion and sure-footed confidence that made it much more than a merely acceptable substitute.

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