Prince was an artist who achieved an omnipotence that will never be matched. His career stretched across five decades, but there was not one sex scandal, abuse charge or drug or alcohol related mishap in all that time. He released a catalogue of albums that would intimidate any musician to learn, let alone to write and create. He supported countless charities, and yet his philanthropy and activism were hardly heard of during his all-too-short lifetime. There are no tales of dummy-spits, tantrums or walk-offs to his name. He mastered enough instruments to record an entire album himself and he changed the way many artists managed their own creativity and careers. And how many recording artists can say The Joker reworked a handful of classical art pieces to his soundtrack?
When Prince passed away suddenly last year, a gaping hole was left, not only in the lives of his fans, but in hearts of countless millions who never even knew his work, either public or private, had influenced something they hold dear. The question is, then, how do we grieve the loss of a man we never really knew? How do we celebrate a life that was humbly shrouded in privacy? The answer is simple: music. Music brought to us by someone who loves performing, loves Prince, and loves his art so much, and can bring his songs to us with such a deeply connected passion, that the audience feels her every emotion and experiences every lyric as if it were sung to them, endorsed by the purple man himself.
For us here in Melbourne, this Fringe Festival gives us Tanya di Vella. In an outfit that would incite his envy, she intimately recreates Prince hits both obscure and well known (we wouldn’t be without “Cream”, “Little Red Corvette”, “Raspberry Beret” or “Purple Rain” now, would we?), while pausing to enlighten us and celebrate a life lived for music, and the love and peace it can bring, if played from the right heart. Tanya di Vella performs with a sultry voice and captivating presence. It’s hard to believe Prince wouldn’t have enjoyed seeing his words so loyally and lovingly sung by a woman, the way she does.
Purple Reflection is not so much a tribute act as a celebration of a life that so many feel they were truly part of, and he truly part of theirs. A way of reconnecting with an artist who was taken from us too early, by way of an artist who carries him in her devotion to performance. Tanya di Vella was even good enough to give us an original number, written for Prince, but the highlight is and always will be “Purple Rain”. Whatever it is, we’ve all danced in it now.
Review: Max Davine
Editor: Crystal Corocher Good Vibes Melbourne
Pictures: Kieran McNamara