The Sidney Morning Herald
Review: Prince’s Piano & A Microphone tour
By: George Palathingal (smh.com) – Feb 21, 2016
Opera House Concert Hall, February 20 (6.30pm show)
Obscenely talented … Prince teased and thrilled his Sydney audience. Photo: Nandy McLean
You’ve seen him play the guitar like Jimi Hendrix, dance like James Brown and, if you’re getting on a bit, do everything from shoot basketball hoops to (ahem) hump his microphone during his spectacular full-band shows.
What you probably haven’t seen is Prince, the last musical genius of his enigmatic, obscenely talented kind, sing to you while playing a piano for a couple of hours, brilliantly reinventing selections popular and otherwise from his vast catalogue and showing why he caused a national incident for music fans when this brief Australian tour was announced a mere three weeks ago.
Selections popular and otherwise? With the exception of Sign “O” the Times-era bootleg Joy in Repetition and the first of several heart-swelling instances of beloved tunes dancing into and out of each other – at this point Little Red Corvette and Dirty Mind – the first 20 minutes weren’t easy for everyone.
As a (gulp) proto-Kanye of sorts, Prince had a period of making it difficult for any but the most hard-core fans to get hold of his music (you had to subscribe to his website for the privilege, for a while), alienating some and thus making this show’s early sojourns into relatively recent material testing.
But after he found his way into Strange Relationship, and then The Ballad of Dorothy Parker, the only complaints were about the songs he merely teased – a few bars of Condition of the Heart here, a few more of The Question of U there – rather than got properly stuck into. And even then it’s hard to explain the joy even those fleeting glimpses brought.
If the first 20 minutes felt mainly for him, the next hour and a half was emphatically for the audience. He’s a virtuoso on piano, to be sure, as adept at getting you on your feet to the irresistible funk of Girls & Boys (yes, on only a piano), as at playfully seducing you (How Come U Don’t Call Me Any More) or even just playing beautifully (Venus de Milo).
And then, of course, there were the encores: each demanding the question, “how do you top that?”, each effortlessly answering it. How do you follow Nothing Compares 2 U? How about with Raspberry Beret and Starfish & Coffee before a swift change of mind ditches Paisley Park for a version of Kiss you never imagined?
Think that’s it? Not when our maestro from Minneapolis – who has by now rechristened this room “Sydney-apolis” – feels inclined to play an emotionally charged Purple Rain (dedicated, as it was at one of the Melbourne shows, to his late, erstwhile muse Vanity).
It’s a truly special show, on an extraordinary tour.
Prince’s Piano & A Microphone tour continues at the State Theatre on Sunday at 6.30pm and at 10.30pm. Both shows are sold out.