Fans of Prince have long since known that he was a man capable of delivering performances with so much passion and musical energy that you, as the spectator, would inevitably be moved emotionally.
For some this idea is deeply rooted in the final scene of the Prince’s 1984 film Purple Rain where Prince and The Revolution blow the crowd away with a “new song the girls in the band wrote“. For some, this scene from movie history is the first experience of seeing Prince play up to his potential live. The song is of course “Purple Rain”, which in the film is dedicated to Prince’s deceased father, a cruel and abusive man. The context of a controlling songwriter finally ceding credit to his bandmates while paying tribute to his father adds a layer of intensity to the performance, which is ultimately the climax of the film. It’s a total catharsis for the star.
The real-life version captured in this grainy video from 1983 shows Prince debuting the song live during a benefit concert. This is one year before “Purple Rain”, the film was released and is surely the inspiration for the final scene with the extended guitar intro played by Wendy Melvoin. More amazingly this is the version of the song that largely ended up on Prince’s album of the same name. All things considered, this is the best version of Purple Rain ever performed.