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Wendy & Lisa help carry on Prince’s Revolution at The Fillmore

BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

As difficult as it seems to comprehend that Prince has been dead for nearly three years, that reality is quickly approaching.

Just months after the unexpected death of David Bowie in January 2016, the shocking passing of the Purple One on April 21st at the age of 57 cemented the second half of this decade as a period of great loss for the music world that will never be forgotten.

George Michael, Tom Petty and Aretha Franklin are just a few of the many iconic musicians that have passed away in the last three years. But thankfully, the music of Prince lives on through The Revolution, the multi- talented backing band throughout his most creative period during the mid-1980’s.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Guitarist Wendy Melvoin of The Revolution performs during the bands appearance Sunday night at The Fillmore in San Francisco. The band played nearly two hours worth of material from the early 80’s when they were Prince’s backing band during the era of “Purple Rain.”

The Revolution morphed into the band that would back Prince predominately from the release of “1999” in 1982 through the hey days of “Purple Rain” two years later. That created a phenomenon for the movie of the same name and sold over 1.5 million copies the first week it was released and over 25 million worldwide to date.

Clearly a highly talented band in it’s own right, the evolution of The Revolution began in 1979 when drummer Bobby Z and keyboardist Matt “The Doctor” Fink joined Prince. The final line-up including Wendy Melvoin on guitar, Lisa Coleman on keyboards and Brown Mark on bass was solidified in 1983.

Unfortunately one of the traits that the band inherited from their former lead singer was the penchant for taking the stage unfashionably late. But once they arrived, they proceeded to deliver an electric 105 minute set documenting one of the most productive five year stretches in music history.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Lisa Coleman of The Revolution performs during the bands appearance Sunday night at The Fillmore in San Francisco. The band played nearly two hours worth of material from the early 80’s when they were Prince’s backing band during the era of “Purple Rain.”

Opening with “America” from 1985’s “Around the World in a Day,” the band, with Melvoin  on lead vocals, performed as close to a definitive overview of their era as one could ask for. The melodic “Take Me With You” and Jill Jones danceable “All Day, All Night” were highlights of the first part of the set, but the it was the final dozen songs that validated The Revolution’s role in the birth of MTV along with something of a mythical status.

The non-stop selection of sing-alongs featured “Raspberry Beret,” “Erotic City,” “1999” and “Let’s Go Crazy” to start. From there they turned the clock back even further for extended renditions of “Delirious” and “Controversy” before following with “Kiss,” the third No. 1 single from 1986’s “Parade” and it’s fellow chart-topper “When Doves Cry.”

While the band didn’t get personal much over the course of their set with the exception of a few shout outs to their host city of San Francisco, Melvoin stated everything that needed to be said before the band launched into “Purple Rain,” their Pièce de résistance. Speaking from the heart about Prince, she stated “It’s just a monumental loss. This group of people is doing it for you guys, the fans,” before imploring the crowd for their assistance in singing along to the signature tune.

Returning to the stage for an encore of “I Would Die 4 U” that segued into “Baby I’m A Star,” there was nothing more for the quartet to give. They had given their all to an appreciative crowd and everyone left happy.

Though it’s an impossibility that anyone will ever replace the diminutive one who was larger than life, The Revolution is far from being a cover band. And far from being a mere nostalgic act, their return to the music scene gives fans a chance to both enjoy and embrace the legacy of one of the most significant musicians of our time.

About Daniel Gluskoter

Daniel Gluskoter is the Martinez Tribune's national music and sports editor and a Bay Area photojournalist who's work has been featured in Rolling Stone, Time Magazine and Sports Illustrated. He covered the 2008 Presidential campaign as a correspondent for United Press International and has travelled worldwide covering events ranging from numerous Super Bowls and Olympics to Live Aid and the Grammys.

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