Oh Prince, please don’t sue me. I love your music, and so do the wonderful people of Orlando. The now non-smoking Will’s Pub invited 150+ of their closest friends to celebrate the beauty that is Prince’s sonic masterpiece, Purple Rain. Some of Orlando’s finest musicians joined forces to create a powerhouse tribute to The Purple One. Enjoy.
“Shall we begin? Yes Lisa.”
The night began with Katt and I venturing into Will’s for a show everyone was looking forward to. I’ve never seen Will’s so packed (the show sold-out!), and the juxtaposition of the crowd was a pleasant surprise. The usual 20’s and 30’s audience was interspersed with original fans of the 1984 album and film. Although I’ve heard some backlash about Will’s going smoke-free, I’m under the impression that a big chunk of the people were driven in by the pub’s cleaner atmosphere. Adding to the new polish was a Florida inspired mural, verifying my thoughts that Will’s is rebranding themselves as more of a venue than a bar.
However, some old habits die hard. Per usual, the 9:00 p.m. show time was pushed back, with the Purple Rain cover set not starting until closer to 11:00. But, the late start and cramped quarters were a minute blemish on an otherwise beautiful night. When Gerald Perez (Prince) slithered onto the stage with The Revolution, every sin to punctuality was cleansed in the waters of “Let’s Go Crazy”. The band was decked out in the near perfect Prince and The Revolution drab, including a drag Lisa and the signature Purple Rain purple velvet suit. Perez himself isn’t much of a Prince doppelganger. He resembled more a Lionel Richie meets Ron Jermey, but looks aside, his vocals and guitar playing were spot on with The Purple One.
[Insert illegal video of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy”]
The band grooved it’s way through all nine tracks off Purple Rain, but veered from the original order of the album. The crowd favorites were the iconic “When Doves Cry” and “Purple Rain,” the later included golden and purple balloons thrown by yours truly, aka the night’s “balloon guard”. My own highlights were the outro of “The Beautiful Ones,” (Orlando Weekly called it) See: “Baby, baby, baby, baby, I want you!” and the blindfolded Perez blazing through “Computer Blue,” whilst The Moon is a Disco Ball’s Bethany Avello simulated fellatio.
When the first of two sets ended with the upbeat “Baby I’m a Star,” the crowd felt both sexually and musically satisfied. But, the one moment that’s stayed with me since was during the set’s climax. During the third chorus of “Purple Rain,” right before the guitar solo, the fact that Perez, Avello, Kamm, Ibrahim, Bleu, and Drennon aren’t the real Prince and The Revolution didn’t matter. Every fan that had experienced Purple Rain 30 years prior, and every fan since then couldn’t tell the difference.
Please don’t sue.