The passing of Prince in April rocked me like no celebrity death ever has. I have thought of him every single day and cried more tears than perhaps anyone should over a celebrity they didn’t know. When I saw Andrew de Silva was paying tribute to the Purple One at a club a couple of minutes from my house, I knew I had to be there. Tribute shows tend to get a bad name. They’re the crowd-pleasing entertainment of RSLs, pleasant but ultimately unforgettable. However, when a talent like Andrew de Silva puts on a tribute show, it’s always going to be a cut above the average.
Don’t get me wrong. No one can match Prince. I’m pretty sure Andrew knows that. But he can sing very well and he’s got a real charisma. He’s also assembled an excellent band, especially the lead guitarist who was much better than I imagined. Again, no Prince, but someone capable of taking on the challenge.
It was only fitting that Prince’s own voice boomed from the speakers, the “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life” monologue so familiar to fans, to kick start the show. “Let’s Go Crazy” was the perfect opener, a track that quickly had the dancefloor full with the true fans and the folks who seem to have stumbled in because it was a cheap show. Andrew played to them and the faithful, with a set featuring hits and some of the lesser-known tracks I didn’t expect to hear. A woman I was dancing with leaned over to me during “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night” and asked me whether it was a Prince song. There were a lot of blank faces during “Shhh” a song Prince wrote for Tevin Campbell’s album I’m Ready, but I was in raptures.
Ettalong Diggers probably wasn’t the best venue for a show like this. The dancefloor was always going to fill, and since the floor was flat anyone who wanted to sit couldn’t see. I was never going to sit down for long though. Every time I planned to take a rest, Andrew would launch into another favourite song. Tracks like “1999,” “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man,” “I Would Die 4 U,” and “Baby I’m a Star” were faithfully delivered and so much fun. I did question the inclusion of Lenny Kravitz’ “Fly Away” though. While Lenny was influenced by Prince and the song is fine, playing it meant we got one less Prince song. With 39 studio albums, it’s not like Andrew should have been short on material.
Since Prince’s passing, I’ve often marvelled at the positivity of his musical legacy. As fans we miss him so terribly, yet listening to his music it’s impossible to wallow. A tribute night just months after the passing of such a talent could get maudlin if we weren’t left with such feel-good songs. I did feel a moment of sadness though during “Purple Rain.” Watching Prince perform this song in Brisbane in 2012, with purple glitter falling from the ceiling, was as close to a religious experience as I’ve ever had. Again earlier this year, this song was a real highlight of his Piano and a Microphone show at the State Theatre in Sydney. Andrew de Silva and his band did as good a job as anyone covering this song could do, yet I felt that wave of sadness wash over me. Because as good as it was, it wasn’t Prince. And I will never get to see him play that song and move me and everyone in the room that way again. I couldn’t help but wipe away a few tears at that. But before I could become the weird blubbering girl, we had “Little Red Corvette.” More positivity. Another wonderful song to lift me up.
No one can replace Prince. No one will ever touch him musically. And Andrew de Silva doesn’t try. He just keeps that music alive in the live area. He brings it to the diehard fans and to the people who just stumble in to the room because it’s an affordable way to spend a night. If you’re thinking about seeing the Purple Revolution show but you’re worried about it falling short, put your doubts aside. They might not be the originals, but Andrew de Silva and his band do an excellent job at celebrating the music of Prince.
Andrew de Silva will bring his Purple Revolution show to the following venues.
27 August 2016 – Matthew Flinders Hotel, Chadstone
17 September 2016 – SSA Club, Albury
30 September 2016 – Satellite Lounge @ Wheelers Hill Hotel, Wheelers Hill
22 October 2016 – Caledonian Hotel, Wonthaggi
28 October 2016 – Moama RSL, Echuca
19 November 2016 – Memo Music Hall, St Kilda
25 November 2016 – Jupiters Casino, Gold Coast