The music of Prince was alive and well at Rockstar Music Hall on June 1 when Toronto/New York tribute act The Funk Frequency visited Windsor for one night of pure Minneapolis groove.
Starting with an infectious take on the classic 1999, The Funk Frequency rocked the house for two sets of Prince favourites mixed with a few funky hits from Vanity 6, Sheila E and The Time. The band perfectly captured the essence of the purple one and had the dancing audience hooked right from the start. It actually felt like we were watching The Revolution perform in the early years – just like in the Purple Rain movie. It was pure funk, sass, sex and erotic fun.
Lead vocalist Chris Rouse embodied Prince’s true essence – with the music, the vocal emotion and that royal personality that made the original such a superstar. He maintained a Prince-like stance and sexuality throughout the show that felt more like we were watching Prince on the Controversy tour than a typical tribute might have done. He was able to capture vast variety of vocal ranges and pitches that made Prince such a unique performer – from Kiss and Purple Rain to Little Red Corvette and I Would Die For You – it was all there.
The show was even more exciting with its use of rare and odd tracks like Dance Electric, 17 Days and Erotic City, instead of pop hits like Raspberry Beret or U Got That Look. Hopefully next time, they’ll dive deeper into the catalog with a few more gems and B-sides from Dirty Mind, Controversy or the incredible Black Album.
This is about as close to seeing Prince as we’re ever going to get at this point in time. The young, up-and-coming performer was one of the most exciting artists to hit the stage and this performance brought back many of the emotions and memories I had when I first heard albums like Controversy, Dirty Mind and 1999. It was exciting back then and it was certainly exciting years later to hear a band perform it the way it was meant to be seen and heard.
The band was dressed in Revolution-era styles and was even set up similarly with a Wendy and Lisa keyboardist and vocalist, along with substantial contributions on bass, guitar and drums. Secondary vocalist Jenna O especially got into the spirit of Lisa Coleman, most notably on songs like 1999 and Controversy. It would have been awesome to hear her dive into songs like Head, Take Me With You or Jack U Off. She was interesting to watch throughout the show as she subtly revealed more of her body throughout the evening, ending up in a skimpy white two-piece in the second set. She also performed Vanity 6’s Nasty Girl and Sheila E’s Glamorous Life in the show.
Along with the music, the band was choreographed well, including all the proper synced sways and bends one would expect in an early Prince show – with Rockstar as the backdrop, it felt like we were in the 1999 music video for most of the show.
I’m not big on tributes, but they do have their place when artists like Prince have passed away. The Funk Frequency is a complete exception to the rule and worthy of watching any time they come around – whether you’re in the mood for an evening of Prince or just looking to have a good time. The band is stunning, Jenna O was sexy as hell and Chris Rouse is a living embodiment of Prince when he hits that stage. Watch for more from this band in the future.