Tag: “Piano and a Microphone” tour

Prince Pays Tribute to Late Girlfriend Vanity in 1st Show on Solo Tour in Australia

Prince on 2016 “Piano and a Microphone” Tour (photo via news.com.au)

article by Cameron Adams via news.com.au

REMEMBER when musicians became superstars because of their talent?

Prince may be the last of his kind.

Australia is the surprise first global leg of his Piano and a Microphone solo tour, a tour which didn’t exist a month ago but will be talked about for years.

Armed just with a piano and that immense talent, Prince put on the kind of concert you just don’t expect to see from a superstar. It was spontaneous and intimate. It was like a private piano party, just with 2,000 people watching. It was pure Prince.

His first Melbourne show at the State Theatre was particularly emotionally charged — Prince admitting he’d just found out about the death of Denise Matthews, aka Vanity, his ex-girlfriend from the early ‘80s and protégé when she fronted the band Vanity 6.

“Someone dear to us has passed away, I’m gonna dedicate this song to her,” Prince said before playing a touching version of “Little Red Corvette” with a touch of “Dirty Mind” — songs from the era when they were together.

First sign of new Prince merchandise
First sign of new Prince merchandise (Source: Supplied)

Prince reworked his classic “The Ladder” to replace the name ‘Electra’ with ‘Vanity’ — so the lyrics ran “This Prince, he had a subject named Vanity who loved him with a passion, uncontested.”

After an encore Prince returned to the stage noting “I am new to this playing alone. I thank you all for being so patient. I’m trying to stay focused, it’s a little heavy for me tonight. Just keep jamming … She knows about this one.” That introduced a truly incredible version of  “The Beautiful Ones,” another song from the Vanity era (she was the original choice for lead in the “Purple Rain” movie), the song ending with Prince changing “my knees” for “Denise … Denise”.

Unusually chatty and candid, he continued going off script. “Can I tell you a story about Vanity? Or should I tell you a story about Denise? Her and I used to love each other deeply.  She loved me for the artist I was, I loved her for the artist she was trying to be.  She and I would fight. She was very headstrong ’cause she knew she was the finest woman in the world. She never missed an opportunity to tell you that.”

Prince then opened up about a fight where he threatened to throw Vanity in the pool.  She said “You can’t throw me in the pool, you’re too little.”  He then asked his six foot bodyguard Chick to do the dirty work for him.  “I probably shouldn’t be telling this story,“ he said, “but she’d want us to celebrate her life and not mourn her.”

To read more, go to: http://www.news.com.au/entertainment/prince-pays-tribute-to-late-girlfriend-vanity-in-first-show-on-australian-solo-tour/news-story/d80310448ef160275398c7f36d2f221d

 

MUSIC REVIEW: Prince Stuns at Emotional ‘Piano and a Microphone’ Solo Show

Prince; Live Review; Paisley Park
Prince played his first ever solo piano show at his Paisley Park compound on January 21. (Photo: NPG Records)

Prince approached the piano, a purple baby grand. He landed a single chord, resonant and bassy. He stood. He walked away.

As we could have guessed, Prince’s first-ever (first ever?) solo show last night at Paisley Park, his home compound in suburban Minnesota, was no simple, straightforward affair. The 57-year-old funk-pop wizard approached the performance as a challenge, an opportunity to prove that he could deliver a full Prince show without much of anything we expect from a full Prince show: No powerhouse band, no impossibly lithe dancing, no masterful guitar fireworks. Just, as the show’s official title put it, “Piano & a Microphone.” And a lot of Prince. Maybe more Prince than he’s ever shared before.

Prince framed the evening as an autobiographical struggle, the story of how he mastered the piano and emerged from the shadow of his father, a jazz pianist. The set moved chronologically (with a few exceptions) through the first decade of Prince’s career, including at least one song from each of his first 10 albums. Familiar melodies splintered into virtuosic cascades for a dreamlike effect, as though Prince was remembering the birth of his career in real time.

The night began with some introductory psychodrama. Elegantly casual in his mauve pajamas, that enormous afro dominating his slim frame, Prince took a stage decorated sparsely with candles, befogged by a smoke machine, his personal glyph looming from behind, illuminated by kaleidoscopic patterns. His voice was doused in heavy echo as he expressed the dreams and doubts of a child who sneaks down without permission to play his father’s piano. “I can’t play piano like my dad. How does dad do that?” he wondered, while attempting improvisations that, at one point, suggested Thelonious Monk teaching himself the theme to Batman.

Then it got sexy. Prince’s fingers were everywhere during “Baby,” a ballad from his 1978 debut For You that served as foreplay to the full-body workouts “I Wanna Be Your Lover” and “Dirty Mind” before the ecstatic squeals of “Do Me, Baby” provided the climax. Multiple climaxes, even.

Prince moved between songs fluidly. He introduced the moving ballad “Free” by celebrating “the freedom to say no,” later interrupting the song to wipe a tear and briefly mourn David Bowie: “I only met him once. He was nice to me. He seemed like he was nice to everybody.” Before we knew it, he was in the middle of a gorgeous take on a longtime Prince favorite, Joni Mitchell‘s “A Case of You,” which transformed into a bluesy vamp that Prince used as a lesson in musicology. “The space between the notes — that’s the good part,” he said. “How long the space is — that’s how funky it is or how funky it ain’t.” And just like that, he was was moaning the spiritual lament “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.”

The intimate setting was ideal for falsetto-wrenched ballads like “Sometimes It Snows in April” and “The Breakdown,” one of a handful of newer songs inserted into the set. But Prince never forgot that the piano is a rhythm instrument. If the old-time boogie-woogie masters didn’t need drums to rock a party, well, neither did Prince. He remade “Paisley Park” as a bluesy, gutbucket romp, and his pumping left hand recalled Ray Charles, a debt he made clear when he ripped into the soul legend’s “Unchain My Heart,” a song he recalled playing with his father.

“I thought I would never be able to play like my dad,” he said. “And he never missed an opportunity to remind me of it.” But Prince’s playing belied his modesty. His florid right-hand runs had a little of the theatricality of Liberace in them, but with more tasteful jazz inflections as well. Paying tribute to his past collaborators Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, he credited Lisa with introducing him to the complex chording of jazzman Bill Evans then played the harpsichord part she wrote for “Raspberry Beret.” “That’s the whole song, right?”

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