“Dreams do come true,” Princess — the Prince tribute duo of comedian/actor/SNL alumnus Maya Rudolph and singer-songwriter Gretchen Lieberum — gushed onstage Friday night, as they joined the great Purple One’s recently reunited band the Revolution onstage at L.A.’s Wiltern for a loving cover of the Dirty Mind track “When You Were Mine.”
This wasn’t the first Los Angeles brush with Minneapolis rock royalty for Rudolph and Lieberum, who met in the early ’90s at UC Santa Cruz and quickly bonded over their shared obsession with pop music’s ultimate sexy MF. “It was like the gates of heaven opening. Gretchen and I got to meet [Prince] the last time he played in town,” Rudolph told the L.A. Weekly in 2015. “And he gave us both these big, nice hugs, and he said that he had our performance [of “Darling Nikki”] on Jimmy Fallon recorded on his DVR.” Princess returned to the Fallon-hosted Tonight Show under much sadder circumstances last year, five days after Prince’s death, performing a poignant cover of “Sometimes It Snows in April” with D’Angelo that is widely considered to be one of the best Prince homages ever.
The Revolution’s Wiltern show did feature guitarist Wendy Melvoin and keyboardist Lisa Coleman’s stripped, hushed cover of “Sometimes It Snows,” but that was a lone sad moment in the band’s upbeat, 23-song set. While the Revolution’s first reunion concert last year at Minneapolis’s Purple Rain-popularized First Avenue club was an often somber affair — with Melvoin, Coleman, bassist Brownmark, drummer Bobby Z., and keyboardist Dr. Fink clearly still in mourning and struggling to power through the emotional show — Friday’s concert was one giant, joyous, “1999”-style purple party. (Ironically, folding chairs had been brought into the usually SRO venue, but the 1,850 fans in attendance were on their feet the entire time.)
Princess weren’t the only special guests onstage at the Wiltern Friday. Mint Condition’s Stokley Williams, dressed in a Revolution-ary raspberry hat and brocade coat, impressively handled the Artist’s stratospheric vocals (and dance moves) on many of the biggest hits, and Wendy’s twin sister Susannah — former lead singer of the Prince-protégé band the Family, Prince’s onetime fiancée, the inspiration for “Nothing Compares 2 U,” and the co-writer of Prince’s “Starfish and Coffee” — served as a hypewoman of sorts, providing backup vocals and bouncing around the stage wearing overalls and a massive smile.
Wendy Melvoin was the true star of night, showcasing her fiery guitar work (her “Purple Rain” solo was a jaw-dropper) and acting as emcee (her spoken-word recitation of the entire first verse of “Raspberry Beret,” followed by a grin and “That is f***ing cool,” elicited cheers). However, the shy and sweet Coleman, standing in the back behind her keyboard banks, also got her moment when she took on lead vocals for “Our Destiny” — an effervescent 1984 rarity just released from the vaults via Friday’s deluxe Purple Rain reissue on Warner Bros. The night climaxed spectacularly with a group singalong of “Baby, I’m a Star,” as Princess returned to the stage to share a microphone with Susannah.
Check out the Revolution’s career-spanning, five-part interview about their time with Prince below.