PERTH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
NOTHING COMPARES: THE MUSIC OF PRINCE
Photos by Daniel Carson
“I love Pink,” said my companion in the car on the way to the show.
“Prince,” I replied.
“No, Pink. That’s who we’re going to see, isn’t it?
“Oh, I thought it was Pink. I love Pink. Do I like Prince?”
“I don’t know.”
The purple one had gained yet another fan and Perth had witnessed the arrival of a superstar. PSO was in the house!
It wasn’t the best of starts to an evening, it wasn’t the worst of starts. A moment of foolishness? I don’t know, certainly tomfoolery, but by the end of the show we both were of the firm belief that we like Prince, very much. As for Pink, maybe next show?
Tonight’s performance of the music of Prince by Perth Symphony Orchestra (PSO) and vocalists for the evening, Hans Fiance, Sam Nafie, Amy Reeves and Ali Bodycoat — who doubled as compère/narrator, chronicling the life and times of Prince along the way — was just about flawless. It also brought to the fore a new darling on the Perth music scene, the orchestra itself. Having attended several of these shows, it’s fair to say that PSO has always elicited warm applause from those in attendance, and rightly so. Tonight’s audience response was in another league, however. The rapture with which they applauded PSO at the beginning of the show and then at the end, where PSO received a standing ovation, indicated to this reviewer that, after years of hard work, honing and relentless performing, Perth had just discovered a new overnight sensation.
It was a pretty cool thing to witness, the orchestra becoming the star of its own show, and this moment of transcendence can only mean bigger and better things for PSO and their mission to bring high art to the masses.
Tonight showed us what a master of his craft Prince was. His songs translated effortlessly to the orchestral arrangements, and while saying it so quickly doesn’t do justice to PSO’s talented army of arrangers, it does support the idea that tonight’s performance of his songs showed the very best of Prince’s talents as a composer and arranger. Prince was more than just a writer of contemporary songs — three-minute throwaways, if you will — his music is enduring, enrapturing and completely at home in any company, particularly, it seems, company of the orchestral kind.
This evening’s vocalists, as we’ve come to expect, stayed true to Prince’s music and performance chops — of which there were many — while adding their own flair and personality to each song. The show opened with Hans Fiance singing ‘Let’s Go Crazy’, the only proper choice as a commencement to proceedings, and never let up from there. Fiance did a stellar job of looking, moving, sounding and playing the guitar and piano like Prince, and carried much of the up-front workload throughout the night. At times, it was like the man himself had returned to Earth for an encore. He was ably complemented by Sam Nafie, whose falsetto is a phenomenon you need to witness at least once in your lifetime, and Amy Reeves, who owned the stage like she’d been strutting it since birth and, if they’d crossed paths, would have given Prince himself a run for his money. Then there was the multitalented Ali Bodycoat, who anchored the show, doing the intros and narration and taking her fair share of the lead vocals.
These four vocalists turned in polished performances that would have made them sensations on any stage anywhere in the world. If COVID travel restrictions have taught us anything, it is that we have a wealth of talent right here in our home town. Hopefully we’ll never again feel the need to import lead performers to put on a tip top event and draw an audience.
The transitions between songs and movements in the show tonight were effortless. The dynamics and pacing kept the audience engaged throughout, taking them higher when they needed it, giving them a pause for breath when they felt like they might run out of oxygen and making them feel safe and welcomed enough to dance and sing along throughout the show’s 90 minutes. Those who know Perth also will know that this last part is nigh on impossible to achieve so this alone was a measure of the evening’s triumphant success.
And, 90 minutes without an intermission. I’m taking credit for that 😉
By the time we’d reached the encore of ‘Kiss’ and ‘Raspberry Beret’, my companion was emphatic in her love for Prince. Pink was a distant memory. The purple one had gained yet another fan and Perth had witnessed the arrival of a superstar. PSO was in the house!