LYNN — The symphonic sounds of the late Prince Rogers Nelson were alive and well at the Lynn Auditorium on Saturday night.
4U: A Symphonic Celebration of Prince was a true tribute to one of music’s biggest contributors and it’s the only one the late star’s estate approved of. Acclaimed drummer and Prince mega-fan Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Brent Fischer, GRAMMY Award-winning composer and member of the original arranger team behind Prince, and multi-instrumentalist Miguel Atwood-Ferguson took the packed audience on a journey, or a “purple” journey as Questlove called it.
The show highlighted the hidden gems and biggest hits of Prince in an orchestral setting that did not miss a note. The show began shortly after 8 p.m. and as the first chords of “For You” began, the late-comers rushed to find their seats, drinks in hand. The room soon became a purple smokeshow as the talently jam-packed 27-piece orchestra and memory-filled projector screen mesmerized the crowd.
I, just shy of 23 years old, grew up listening to the music of Prince on my mother’s stereo but on Saturday night it was as if I was being introduced to him for the first time. The first half of the show had the passionate instrumentalists performing unique renditions of Prince’s best kept secret songs.
Above the orchestrated performers was a projector screen that showed the audiences glimpses into the private world of Prince. Handwritten song lyrics and letters, one penned to Madonna herself, and a roll of almost forgotten music videos ran throughout the show.
Drawings and stage plans, from Prince himself, were also displayed. Questlove, Fischer, and Atwood-Ferguson really knew what they were doing when they choreographed the ins and outs of the show, specifically within the ways they brought his soul and persona into the room.
The star’s biggest hits, such as “1999” and “Raspberry Beret” had the crowd up and out of their seats during the second half.
One gentleman, seated in the front row, danced like he had not moved his body in years. The instant “Let’s Go Crazy” filled the room, he sprung out of his chair and for a second I thought Prince himself was in the room. I wasn’t sure what else could make someone jump up that passionately. Soon, the rest of the audience followed suit.
The crowd really felt the pulse of Prince after one of the violinists put down her instrument and began leading the vocals to the late star’s most popular hits. As the first note of “When Doves Cry” flew off the stage and into the crowd, the cheers made it almost impossible for me to think. The loud screeching cheers made me feel like I was back at a Hanson or Jonas Brothers concert.
The Prince-symphonic dream continued as the cell phone lights from the audience created a unifying vision during “Purple Rain.” The first half of the show had the audience mesmerized and the second half had them unable to contain themselves. The show ended with a well-deserved standing ovation.
I would have sat back down if the show honored the audience with an encore. And I’m one hundred percent sure I would not have been the only one. Questlove, Fischer, Atwood-Ferguson, and those a part of the orchestral band would have made Prince proud.