Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to celebrate this man called Prince . . .
Tribute band The Purple Xperience brings the spirit of the Minneapolis pop star to The Paramount in Huntington on Friday.
“We are here to keep his music alive,” says keyboardist Cory Eischen. “As the noise of his passing starts to die, we are here to ramp it up.”
The 6-year-old band is curated by Matt "Dr." Fink, former keyboardist of Prince’s backing band, the Revolution, from 1979 to 1986. Fink continued to play with the artist through 1991.
The five-piece band re-creates Prince’s body of work utilizing Revolution’s original live arrangements of songs like 1979’s “I Wanna Be Your Lover” to 1991’s “Cream” with a dose of tracks from albums including “1999,” “Purple Rain,” “Around the World in a Day,” “Parade,” “Sign o’ the Times” and “Lovesexy” in between.
ABOUT THE BAND
“Prince is in my DNA,” says Eischen, who is also from Minneapolis and who even named his son Ezra Prince. “At age 14, ‘Purple Rain’ blew me away. It changed my life completely. I can hear anything from his catalog and make it happen.”
In the role of the Purple One, Marshall Charloff looks, moves and sounds like the Rock & Roll Hall of Famer.
“From the moment Marshall walks out onto the stage, the crowd goes crazy,” Eischen says. “You look over and through your peripheral vision you kind of see Prince there for a second. He does a really good job without overblowing it.”
Charloff stands 5-foot-5 with a slender frame that fits perfectly into re-creations of signature Prince video outfits like the cloud suit from “Raspberry Beret,” the white ruffled shirt and long purple coat from “Purple Rain” or the black pants with white buttons down the leg from “Kiss.”
“Genetics play a big part, but I have to go to the gym and stay in shape,” says Charloff. “I have to pass on the pizza, pass on the alcohol; it is just part of the sacrifice.”
Charloff even met Prince when he was 18, playing in a band with the artist’s first cousin.
Since Prince’s passing on April 21, Charloff says that the tribute shows have developed deeper meaning.
“There’s more of a spiritual connection and purpose now than there was before,” he says. “Not every single person approves of what we are doing, but I know a majority are experiencing some healing and there’s a lot of gratitude that we are doing this.”
Charloff has a background of playing in a dueling pianos show, which helped strengthen his interplay with the crowd.
“It’s fun to watch the audience and feel like you are part of something with them,” he says. “To see the smiles on their faces, the dancing, the enlightenment. . . . There’s no substitute, it’s awesome.”
The night after Prince died, the band took the stage in Chicago, which was not an easy feat for Charloff.
“I really struggled, morally and internally about it,” he says. “But everything was lifted on the first song, ‘The Cross.’ It felt right and has ever since that moment.”
THE PURPLE XPERIENCE
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6 at the Paramount, 370 New York Ave., Huntington
INFO 631-673-7300, paramountny.com