SAN FRANCISCO — While Tuesday’s sold-out Fillmore show by the Revolution, the first of two, was a tribute to the Purple One, an outlet for Prince fans to dance, sing and cry, the show itself didn’t feel tribute, as much as it was a rejuvenation.
The band owned the material, playing flawlessly from the first notes of “Computer Blue” to the last notes of “Baby I’m a Star.”
Led primarily by bassist Brown Mark and guitarist Wendy Melvoin, who split singing lead with guest vocalist Stokley Williams of Mint Condition, the Revolution cruised through a two-hour-long set of classic Prince material from the early ‘80s, which the band helped write and record.
On “Computer Blue” the band switched pace, working in multiple time signatures, several times. Brown Mark handled the vocals on that song as well as on “America,” before Melvoin took over for “Mountains,” “Automatic” and “Take Me With U.” All this was to remind fans of Prince’s fantastic vocal range.
If the vocals were a bit muddy throughout the evening, it only helped to inspire sing-alongs.
At that point, Williams came in to lead on “Uptown,” the first of several tunes, wearing a purple fedora. His biggest contributions would come in the back-end of the show, which featured a slew of hits like “Kiss,” “When Doves Cry,” “Purple Rain” and “I Would Die 4 U.”
Melvoin again held center court on “Raspberry Beret,” which came about two-fifths into the show. Up until that point the crowd was in a reverential mood for songs like “D.M.S.R.” and “Our Destiny / Roadhouse Garden.” Fans were paying attention, but for the most part, subdued. The mood shifted at that point; it was like a switch had been flipped, and it became OK to dance, wave arms in the air and let loose.
“Erotic City,” “Let’s Work” and “1999” continued that emotional climb before plateauing with “Paisley Park.”
“I think he wants to hear you guys sing it,” Melvoin said.
A couple of songs later, Williams and Coleman performed “Sometimes It Snows in April” by themselves, with nothing but an acoustic guitar and some sparse keys. Of all the hits to follow and the overall buzz of this show, the concert hinged on the success of this one ballad, which acted as an elegy for Prince, with Melvoin changing the lyrics in the second half of the song, envisioning Prince in heaven.
“I know we will see him again,” she said to herself as much as the crowd.
The song was punctuated with one fan’s guttural scream: “I miss Prince!”
From there, the show turned into a celebration with “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Delirious,” “Kiss,” “When Doves Cry” and “Purple Rain,” which closed out the main set. The final three songs were a catharsis and rebirth at the same time. The encore included “I Would Die 4 U” and “Baby I’m a Star.” The 30-minute show climax showcased Melvoin’s skills as a supreme guitarist—it was one solo after another—Brown Mark’s nimble bass playing and the band’s overall ability to suspend reality and maintain a high.