Caught in a purple whirlwind

SOME people have Jesus. Vince Montagnese has Prince.

The diehard fan, who is travelling to all eight concerts in Australia, still recalls the first time he heard the Purple One at age 13 or 14.

"I remember it clearly. A friend of mine bought the Purple Rain tape over and we were listening to that," he said.

"I was blown away by how different and versatile he was.

"It was a bit of everything - pop, funk, rock, soul.

"I just got that deep into him over the years that it's hard to break away.

"During his leaner periods I've criticised him, but still followed him.

"It's like a religion, once you're in, you can't get out.

"Some people have Jesus, but I have Prince.

"I'm a music lover and his music is at such a great standard live that I just can't resist."

The Adelaide 38-year-old, who was recovering from his third Sydney concert before flying to Brisbane for Prince's second concert on tonight, was hard-pressed to pick his favourite.

"If I had to pick for energy then the second Sydney one was probably my favourite," he said.

"Brisbane was probably him at his best on guitar.

"The first Sydney concert when I was pulled up on stage (to dance) really sticks in my head, too.

"Initially I was just going to four or five concerts, but I've been a big fan since the early '80s and basically he's my passion.

"They say his concerts are so varied and I didn't want to miss out on favourite songs if he played them in certain cities and not others.

"Last Thursday before the Brisbane concert (on Friday), this bug kept eating me.

"Empty Room is one of my favourite songs and I just had a feeling he would play it there.

"It was a last-minute decision, but I got there and I could hear him rehearsing it and then he played it.

"That justified the whole thing.

"You get priceless memories that down the years you will reminisce on."

Prince will perform again in Brisbane tonight in a flashback to lounge room dancing in front of Rage and Video Hits in the '80s and '90s.

But there were more than 13,000 other Prince fans at his last Brisbane dance party, all letting loose to treasured tunes with wild abandon.

With a quick nod, wink or other cue, the man formally known as a symbol would cut or extend his songs to suit his audience at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre.

It's hard to believe more than 20 years have passed since the height of Prince's popularity, both by his swift high-energy dance moves in high heels in his 50s and his ability to belt out ballads and dance songs with equally impressive delivery.

The show opened with a five-minute, one-song set from acoustic guitarist Andy McKee before a crowd-pleasing segue into Prince's first hint of Purple Rain.

From there the order and song selection, as always, was a surprise which is why diehard fans head to as many concerts as they can.

With more than 200 songs to choose from, Prince changes it up for every concert, sometimes playing extended instrumental versions of some songs, just sampling others or changing the key in some.

Funk, jazz, rock, soul - it's a jukebox of retro gold.


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