Telling The Real Stories

The Revolution and First Avenue: A reunion 30 years later to honor a friend

in Events/Lifestyle by

This year hasn’t been a pleasant one for plenty of people who look up to icons of humanity, especially in the realm of music. January hit hard with the passing of David Bowie, and April sucker punched with the death of Minnesota’s own Prince. For the first real time in my life, I have seen my entire home state in mourning. A man with a savant like gift for music – using it to give everyone music to love and to give one of the Twin Cities its own titular music genre, was suddenly gone. Younger fans felt saddened, while older fans sobbed outright. This year has been nothing, if not brutal.

If you happen to subscribe to the five stages of grief, it’s very well-known that the 5th stage is the most difficult to achieve: Acceptance. Perhaps it may be too soon for Minnesota to fully accept his passing, but if the process can be helped along, it can only be a good thing. I think for a lot of people, The Revolution’s concert is the tonic that will help people along the way. Having been dissolved since 1986, The Revolution’s sudden reformation can be seen as a way for the band to heal themselves.

The concert took place in Minneapolis’ own First Avenue, home to Purple Rain’s birth. It’s sidewalks covered in flowers and memorials when Prince’s death occurred, and his Star on the wall being repainted in Gold. Even for the venue, it was a somber affair. Fans, of various walks of life and even home countries, came in droves to see the tribute concert for Prince.

Fans gather outside of First Ave. before The Revolution concert on Friday, Sept. 2 in Minneapolis. Photo by Cody Prior
Fans gather outside of First Ave. before The Revolution concert on Friday, Sept. 2 in Minneapolis. Photo by Cody Poirier

When the band finally came onto the stage, with deafening cheers signaling their arrival, The Revolution began the concert with ‘Let’s Go Crazy.’ When they started playing, ‘Uptown’ I came to a minor epiphany.

I more or less was a sacrilegious Minnesotan and didn’t seem to get into Prince’s music over the years. The fault I had found with myself was I didn’t like his later material, and didn’t care enough to try the rest of his discography. The music I was hearing from his former backup band was more in line with funk music I liked, and I was getting into it. Unlike most, if not the rest of the attendees, I was hearing these songs for the first time. I started to understand why people were die-hard fans of Prince.

…and his Star on the wall being repainted in Gold.

By how hard the band was playing throughout the night, you could tell how hard this hit their members, too. Even with this being the second night of this tribute/reunion concert, the weight in their words could still be heard when talking about Prince. Wendy Melvoin, Revolution’s rhythm guitarist, gave everyone the advice she received from Prince before their first show. “[Prince] told me to count the measures in half time. ‘You’ll play behind the beat,’ He said.” “…That was the best rhythm guitar advice I had ever gotten.”

The only negative thing I could think of for this concert was the sheer number of people who were there. Unless you were a career basketball player, you had a tough time seeing the actual band play. This isn’t something that can be attributed to the band, nor the venue. However, it did offer me a different element to watch of this concert, the attendees as a whole.

Concert attendees dance right up next to one another at The Revolution show on Friday, Sept. 2 at First. Ave in Minneapolis. Photo by Cody Poirier
Concert attendees dance right up next to one another at The Revolution show on Friday, Sept. 2 at First. Ave in Minneapolis. Photo by Cody Poirier

While my age group did attend in good numbers, we were a minority in this audience. People at least double my age showed up in droves, fans from time long ago. It was quite the experience to see these older fans dancing like they would in their youth, both frantic and sensually. Then, a couple songs later, I could see many of them tearing up while The Revolution was playing, ‘Sometimes it Snows in April.’

To cap off the group healing session/concert, the band’s encore performance started with a ‘Kiss’ and ended with ‘Purple Rain.’  The joint voice the audience made with the band during, ‘Purple Rain’ was an experience I won’t forget for a long while.

Prince left behind a legacy most will not be able to match in many years to come. However, the fruits of his legacy bring with them uncertainty and hope. For example, will The Revolution continue after this concert? I honestly hope they do, for while their musical style may be grouped with older genres, their sound is one with the identity of Minnesota now and I would look forward to hearing new works from them.

Good show.

The signage at First Ave. of the sold out The Revolution shows on Sept. 1-3, 2016. Photo by Cody Poirier.

Cody Poirier is an Entrepreneurship major, and is the Lifestyle section editor, business manager and a critic for the University Chronicle. He wastes his time so you don’t have to.

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