Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ambitious Prince Tribute at Powell Hall Worked ... at Times

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ambitious Prince Tribute at Powell Hall Worked ... at Times

Article excerpt

Prince tributes have been flying freely since Prince died in April some thoughtful and necessary, and others just money grabs. But no tribute show has been more anticipated locally than the one Sunday night with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra at Powell Hall.

Windborne's "Music of Prince," which was sold out, was an ambitious effort at honoring the late icon, which combined the music of the SLSO with a band and the vocals of Jason Tenner, a Prince tribute artist who headlines the "Purple Reign" show in Las Vegas.

The combination worked, except for when it didn't. And like most of the Prince tribute shows, it was held back by the fact that Prince's essence is nearly impossible to capture.

"You know you gotta dance, right?" conductor Brent Havens said to the crowd at the top of the show. His remark was met with a roar of applause, but it was nothing compared to when Tenner strapped on a purple guitar and proclaimed: "Dearly beloved. We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life," signaling "Let's Go Crazy."

Tenner, performing his first show with a symphony, ditched the Prince costumes and makeup from his Vegas show in favor of a dark suit with purple accents. "Tonight, it's just about the music of Prince," he said.

He proved an imperfect Prince vocalist, not sounding like Prince for the most part but adopting enough of the icon's affectations to get through songs such as "Kiss," "Raspberry Beret," "Little Red Corvette," "Cream" and "The Most Beautiful Girl in the World."

As one would expect, the set list stuck to the most obvious of Prince hits.

The SLSO, for its part, was flawless. Prince's tunes are often marked by strings and horns, and those were areas where the symphony's special touches were best felt. The new, fleshed-out arrangements wisely didn't veer far from the originals.

Some of the songs were accompanied by a bit of backstory offered by Tenner, few of them revelatory, such as (when introducing "Take Me With U") the fact that singer Vanity was dropped from the movie "Purple Rain" and replaced by Apollonia. …

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