4U: A Symphonic Celebration of Prince – Review by Jetta Simpkins

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Outdoor Amphitheatre in downtown Charlotte, NC seats 5,000; lawn and arena seats. The arena seats are not covered; only the stage is covered. The show was not sold out, but a good crowd; 2500+ people.

The Show – Wednesday, September 12th, 2018
Fans are greeted by a full orchestra, strings, brass and woodwind instruments, guitar, keyboards and most importantly, his symbol hanging over the orchestra. There is a screen on each side of the stage, which in short order, you learn both display the name of each song played and video clips of the Purple One.

The crowd arrived dressed as Prince, t-shirts with his image or his name, dressed in something purple or just simply dressed comfortably to attend a show outside in the slightly muggy (southern) weather. The significance of the weather for me is that there was a hurricane looming off the coast which would bear down on the North and South Carolina within a couple of days. But tonight, the sky is clear with a crescent moon overhead.

The evening started with a recording of Questlove, the curator of this symphonic journey, welcoming the audience and describing the purple journey they are about to take. Then you hear Dick Clark describing Prince’s first appearance on American Bandstand. Throughout the evening, you will hear snippets of Prince’s interviews.

The music starts, and just in case, the audience doesn’t recognize the song, not to worry, the title of each selection was prominently displayed on the two screens behind the orchestra. Each song was easily recognized on the first cord with the exception of a few selections.

There’s no singing by anyone in the orchestra except by the first chair violinist who encouraged the audience to sing-along to “1999” and “Take Me with U”. By the way, she was really into the songs. Loved her enthusiasm. The crowd sang along on other songs as well especially when their favorites played. The orchestra did not sing or have anyone try to sing Prince. Video clips of Prince singing were utilized instead on “Baby I’m a Star” and of course “Purple Rain”.

The audience was treated to video clips and still shots of his handwritten notes, Prince & the Revolution, The Sign-of the Times band, lots of movie clips from Under the Cherry Moon and Purple Rain. Photos of Prince in his later years, 1995-2015, were flashed across the screen sparingly during the second set and as the evening ended; otherwise, most of the scenes were from the Purple Rain era.

Most notable, the saxophonist played Prince’s part in “Nothing Compares to You” (huge audience applause), the trumpets playing Prince singing “When Doves Cry”, the prominence of the string section playing “Erotic City” and “Something in the Water”, and lastly, there’s a video of Prince on stage by himself singing “Purple Rain”. The orchestra and Prince synced beautifully as he sang and played the guitar, and the orchestra was his backing band.

The concert is two hours with a 15-minute intermission after the first hour.

Prince’s music translated beautifully to symphonic form. The music was funky enough to make you want to dance, and at the same time so beautiful and simplistic to bring tears to your eyes as you imagine his greatest era in an instrumental symphonic format. Prince fans already knew this was possible, but to hear it finally translated, amazing. For ardent Prince fans, the casual listener, or someone who did not follow Prince at all, but attended this show, they were able to tell his majestic artistry not just by the music but because of the well-choreographed and orchestrated video clips and audio tapes played
throughout the evening. The only negative for me, Prince is gone not the fact it’s heavily
concentrated on the Purple Rain era.

Play List
Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)
Computer Blue
Christopher Tracy’s Parade
New Position
I Wonder U
Under the Cherry Moon
Venus de Milo
Alexa de Paris
Nothing Compares 2 U
The Beautiful Ones
It Ain’t Over Until the Fat Lady Sings
All My Dreams
Let’s Go Crazy
Little Red Corvette
Erotic City
Starfish & Coffee
Take Me With U
Irresistible Bitch
Raspberry Beret
Baby I’m a Star
Purple Rain








1 comments on “4U: A Symphonic Celebration of Prince – Review by Jetta Simpkins”

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