What: The Revolution
When: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. (at the Phillips Backyard Weekender)
Where: Phillips Brewing & Malting Co., 2010 Government St.
Tickets: $39.50 at ticketweb.ca
The journey from being a musician who played alongside Prince to one who plays in tribute to the late rock legend is an emotional roller-coaster for drummer Bobby Z, but he doesn’t want the ride to stop just yet.
The drummer, born Robert Rivkin, spent years with Prince and the Revolution, and played with the Purple Rain hitmaker as recently as 2013.
When Prince died suddenly in 2016, Rivkin and his Revolution bandmates — keyboardist Dr. Fink, keyboardist Lisa Coleman, bassist Brown Mark, and singer-guitarist Wendy Melvoin — joined together at several concerts in tribute to their friend and former bandleader.
Time slowed to a halt in the years following Prince’s death, Rivkin said, and the occasional tribute concert in Prince’s honour became a soothing salve for the group. The decision to reunite in 2017 was done partly out of necessity. Playing shows with his old bandmates, on songs from their seven-year union with Prince, has played a big role in their healing.
The band will make its Victoria debut on Sunday at the Phillips Backyard Weekender. “This is a very different kind of evening,” Rivkin said. “People are still mourning and grieving. It’s not like they are coming out just to have a good time. They are coming to see a piece of Prince in human form. This is his DNA, his arrangements.”
The Revolution played with Prince on the biggest hits of his career, including Purple Rain (the band also acted in the 1984 movie of the same name). The tour will see the band perform hits from their tenure, including Purple Rain and material from the albums 1999 (1982), Around the World in a Day (1985), and Parade (1986), which collectively sold more than 40 million albums.
Seeing the vast array of hits live is giving fans a front-row seat to one of the best catalogues in popular music today, which is an unusual opportunity.
“We get to lay these first-generation arrangements that most people never got to hear. They are grieving and mourning, and they need to talk about Prince and hear this music. It’s an incredible exchange of love,” Rivkin said.
That the music of Prince and the Revolution remains as popular today as it was in the 1980s tells you everything you need to know about the man who rivals Michael Jackson in terms of musical impact, Rivkin said. “We were all mere mortals to the maestro, following him around trying to decipher what words he’s saying and what he’s saying with his music.”
Riven still lives in Minneapolis, though he’s not far from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where Prince’s estate, Paisley Park, is located. The man who inhabited the residence is gone, but his legend lives on, Rivkin said. He can feel it as he drives around the city.
“You can’t mention Minneapolis without Prince. He’s Paul Bunyan. He’s part of the folklore here. He’s like da Vinci or Shakespeare.”