Mackenzie by Corey Falkenthaul

Review: The New Power Generation at the Enmore Theatre, Sydney, 28 March 2018

As they headed up the coast to Bluesfest at Byron Bay, Prince‘s legendary backing band The New Power Generation stopped by the Enmore Theatre in Sydney for a special show.

While the theatre wasn’t packed out, those that came were keen as hell to make the band feel welcome, with a vibe of both celebration and remembrance to the buildup.

Some people may wonder if a band like this could still exist and continue on without their legendary front man.

But the moment they stepped on stage, it was clear that this was going to be a special kind of performance. These are the performers who know these great songs backwards, and it showed, with each track delivered with perfect precision and flair.

Early highlights included one of the biggest hits they recorded with Prince, ‘Diamonds and Pearls’, which was followed by a beautiful duet version of ‘Nothing Compares 2 U’, with guest singers Tamir Davis and Mackenzie Green delivering heartfelt performances.

Prince handpicked the band himself, and each member was given a chance to shine throughout the night, which added to the sense of celebration and appreciation. The shining star of the band without question was lead guitarist Homer O’Dell, who performed every solo with gusto, but with his own flair thrown in for good measure.

The selections of songs themselves was also a big surprise, with several deep cuts from Prince’s records being played, like ‘I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man’, ‘Daddy Pop’, ‘Sign “O” the Times’ and ‘Pop Life.’

This decision proved to be a real delight for the long time Prince fans in the audience, who might’ve thought that they would never have been able to hear these songs played live again.

What was clear was that the band was not trying to just impersonate the songs they created with Prince, but instead were aiming to add new life to them. A big part of that came from the selection of the guest singers in Green, Davis, Kip Blackshire and, of course, Tony Mosley, who brought their own style to the proceedings.

The result was less like a tribute performance, more like a new take on an old favourite.

The night however took on a more bittersweet feel when the band returned to the stage for an encore, with Musical Director Morris Hayes taking the time to thank the vocal crowd for making them feel so welcome.

The band immediately launched into a heartfelt rendition of ‘Purple Rain,’ which served as a fitting closer to a fantastic night of showmanship and celebration.

Even better, once the show ended, the band took time to shake the hands of many fans as they departed the stage. Just that action itself added to the sense of togetherness, and was a fitting way to end the show. The band loved being there, and that love spread to the crowd.

It may be that the New Power Generation will always be living in the shadow of their legendary front man. But, if that is the case, they paid tribute to him in the best way possible: by being themselves.

At shows end, what stuck out most was not that Prince was no longer with us, but that he was a man who gave us so much joy, and he had an incredibly funky band who helped him achieve that.

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