Though funk maverick Prince was always different, it’s fair to say that he took those differences, liberally, from his influences. And whilst it was always his differences that made him special we should perhaps never forget that the classic Prince style is a unique blend of Little Richard’s sexual ambivalence, James Brown band leadership, Jimi’s cosmic guitar playing and Curtis’s falsetto.
Prince’s live show always offered a clearer presentation of his influences; the records gave us a barrage of p-funk, pop, soul and hip-hop to be distracted by, but live you got the chance to see how well refined his prowess or guitar playing really was. What you took for granted on a Prince record, the live show forced you to remember. This man, unlike his influences, became impossible to copy.
Which is ironic of course given that I’m about to say what a fine tribute Purple Rain is to the Purple One.
Set, stylistically, inside Prince’s cut up live style of 2004’s Musicology era- which, to be fair, was Prince’s live show at it’s best- less 80s sparkle, less 90s sexual healing, less turn of the century mystique- both ‘Prince’ and the rest of ‘Purple Rain’ focus on their complete sound and interplay, providing an on stage fest of energy close to say Sly’s family or the the mind fuck that is a Parliament mothership performance. Within this we get a band so tight that they can play their most inspired, meaningful, electro-funk whilst dropping in the types of cap-doffs that Prince would have done too such as to Crazy in Love and Don’t stop til you get enough.
Prince broke new ground- smashing through templates of gender, sexuality, race and sexual fantasies. The man was different. And his differences made him special.
This show makes us remember those differences.