That was intense. And who cares if His Royal Badness would be proud?
On Sunday 7 June, a likely crew of bandits assembled to perform deliciously unspeakable horrors to some of the greatest Prince songs.
That likely crew of bandits happened to be an all-star cast of Melbourne funk, soul and pop singers. Backed by tight-as-a-tiger funk band Lake Minnetonka, no fewer than five singers (plus a few extras) strutted their stuff on stage: Jude Perl, Chelsea Wilson, Henry Manetta, Allysha Joy and Jennifer Kingwell. The first set warmed the audience up with a selection of instrumental tracks plundered from Prince’s various side-projects and miscellaneous adventures. The second set was where it really took off with a broad range of Prince songs, from crowd-pleasers like Cream, Clouds and FUNKNROLL, to obscure relics – including a hilariously dark cover of ‘Bob George’ (complete with pitch shifted vocals and sampled sound effects).
“By the way, I had to go back to the original Frank Zappa song. The Fairlight sample – I grabbed it – then I sped it up to the exact same pitch that it’s on the Black Album.”
Of course, the performances themselves were spectacular. All seasoned artists individually, the singers really shined with the opportunity to perform such celebrated songs with a crack band behind them. And each singer brought their own distinct manner to the show. Jude Perl led from the front with a salacious rendition of ‘Head’. Her usual fun and frank style did wonders for a song dripping with sexual imagery. Following Perl was Chelsea Wilson. Wilson’s breakout delivery of ‘Kiss’ was the highlight of her set, seeing her use the opportunity to explore a freer and more relaxed delivery. Henry Manetta’s set was a truly impressive tour-de-force showing off his extraordinary expressive range. Allysha Joy brought the show into 2015 with her soulful performance of ‘Clouds’. Finally, Jennifer Kingwell gave us a version of crowd-pleaser ‘Cream’ that masterfully straddled sexual power with feminist power.
“Allysha, can you hear my voice? I’m here to tell you that you’ve been in a state of suspended animation for a very long time. Let’s just say that Tony Abbott’s no longer in power. And the Qantas Club is open again!”
Bringing all together was funk mastermind Adam Rudegeair. A far cry from his mild-mannered jazz piano virtuoso alter-ego, the Adam Rudegeair on stage at this show was boisterous and mischievous. Not content with merely leading the band, he swanned between electric piano, keytar/synthesiser (complete with rock-star posturing), sample triggering and pitch-shifted vocals. Oh, and he MC’d the whole show. Wrangling all the technology on stage (not to mention all the musicians), it’s impressive enough that it all worked – let alone entertained us and went to some artistically adventurous places too. If anyone deserves a good night’s sleep, it’s Rudegeair.
There’s no way our usual five images do any justice to the psychedelic mayhem on stage. You can view more photos on Facebook.