Bobby Z talks about the Revolution's reunion, upcoming Rock the Garden and First Ave appearances


The Revolution perform at First Avenue on Sept. 1, 2016.
The Revolution perform at First Avenue on Sept. 1, 2016. (Nate Ryan/MPR)
Bobby Z of the Revolution talks with Oake and Riley
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Rock the Garden is this Saturday, and among the several highly-anticipated acts that will be performing this weekend are Prince's most famous backing band, the Revolution. However, Rock the Garden is not the only opportunity fans have had to see the Revolution this summer.

The band have been on tour since late April, performing across the country to eager and gracious fans. Although their tour is now over, this weekend they are returning to Minnesota — where their tour kicked off — for two separate performances. Bobby Z, the Revolution's drummer, stopped by The Current to talk with Brian Oake and Jill Riley; click the player above to hear their conversation.

The Revolution first announced a reunion back in April of 2016, just a few days after Prince's death. The reunion took the form of three back-to-back shows at First Avenue last September. At the time, it was unclear whether it would be the last time the Revolution would perform together. In February of this year, however, the Revolution made it clear that they weren't finished sharing the music of Prince — with the announcement of four tour dates in late April, following their scheduled performance at Celebration 2017. Then, in early March the tour was extended to a full 24-shows across the U.S. and running through to July 15.

Since the one-year anniversary of Prince's death, the Revolution have been trekking across the United States, bringing with them not only the music of Prince, but a gathering place for fans. Poignantly, this tour marks the first time that the Revolution have toured together without Prince. Being that this particular tour is so special in a number of ways, it's no surprise that each show has been celebrated as a magical night.

The setlist for each night of the show has followed a basic outline: the necessary classics, as well as some deep cuts. Among the more obscure Prince tracks that made the cut include the "Our Destiny/Roadhouse Garden" medley, a song which up until the release of the Purple Rain deluxe edition had only ever been played live, never released. The performance of "Sometimes It Snows in April" has been cited in several reviews as one of the most heartfelt moments of each show.

Along with a carefully curated set list, there have also been some special guests performing on-stage with the Revolution. Stokely Williams, the singer of Mint Condition, has made appearances at several shows throughout the tour. In Detroit, both Williams and guitarist Rob Bacon — a Detroit native — joined the Revolution onstage.

Several reviews have described these concerts as almost cathartic for their ability to allow fans to both enjoy the music of Prince and to mourn his loss. According to Variety, the Revolution's show at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill in New York perfectly showcased the band's ability to understand the needs of their audience and provide an emotional, yet celebratory night of music.

"The band was razor sharp, inspired, and knew exactly what the audience wanted: a concert that was a celebration, a reunion, a public mourning — and perhaps most of all, a release."

Of course, while the tour has undoubtedly been a success, there was some initial apprehension over whether the obvious absence of the man behind the music would be too big an obstacle to overcome. For the Oakland Press, the Revolution's performance at the Majestic in Detroit made it clear that if anyone is capable of tastefully performing Prince's music, it's the Revolution.

"Nothing, of course, can replace Prince, and the Revolution clearly didn't try. But on Saturday it delivered his songs with a passion and sure-footed confidence that made it much more than a merely acceptable substitute."

The Washington Post praised the Revolution for their heartfelt performance at the Fillmore Silver Spring in Maryland and validated their status as the most capable of guardians over Prince's musical legacy.

"Ultimately, these were faithful renditions of Prince's greatest compositions, lovingly delivered by the very hands that helped make us all believers in the first place. He's lucky to have these five acting as his custodians, and so are we."

This Saturday, the Revolution will perform yet again in Minnesota, this time taking the stage at Rock the Garden. If you don't already have tickets to the sold-out Rock the Garden, never fear, as Saturday is not your only opportunity to see them. The Revolution are also performing on Sunday night at First Avenue in the Mainroom. Although both the VIP and Meet & Greet packages have sold out, general admission tickets to the First Ave show are still available and can be purchased here.

Lillian Speakman is a recent graduate from Hamline University.

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