Just as he did in his first of two solo piano shows last month at Paisley Park, Prince got very personal and emotional on the first night of his Piano & Microphone tour in Australia on Monday. In this case, though, the wounds were fresh as he found out before showtime that his ex-girlfriend and early collaborator Vanity had just died at age 57.
“I’m trying to stay focused, [but] it’s a little heavy for me tonight,” Prince said to the crowd at the State Theatre in Melbourne, according to a review by News Corp Australia. The Minnesota legend paid tribute to the real-life Denise Matthews throughout the performance, picking out several early-‘80s tunes in dedication to his time with her and at one point changing the dramatic “down on my knees” lyric at the end of “Beautiful Ones” to, “Denise… Denise.”
A native of Niagra Falls, Ontario, Matthews was a model when Prince picked her up in 1981 to lead the all-female, lingerie-clad trio Vanity 6. The group landed the hit "Nasty Girl" and opened the 1999 Tour but would only last as long as her romantic relationship with Prince.
In a lighter moment in Monday's concert, Prince recounted a somewhat self-deprecating story about one of their heated arguments before they broke up in 1983, when he threatened to throw Vanity in the pool. “You can’t throw me in the pool, you’re too little,” she retorted. So Prince asked his 6-foot bodyguard Chick to toss her in for him.
“I probably shouldn’t be telling this story, but she’d want us to celebrate her life and not mourn her,” he said. “Her and I used to love each other deeply. She loved me for the artist I was. I loved her for the artist she was trying to be. She and I would fight. She was very headstrong, ‘cuz she knew she was the finest woman in the world. She never missed an opportunity to tell you that.”
Beyond the Vanity-inspired moments, the show drew the kind of rave review that his Paisley Park gigs also earned last month. He plays two more nights in Melbourne and then goes on to multiple nights in Sydney and Perth.
Here’s the full set list from Monday’s show:
- · Big City
- · Ruff Enuff
- · Little Red Corvette
- · Dirty Mind
- · Money Don't Matter 2 Night
- · Waiting in Vain (Bob Marley cover)
- · If I Was Your Girlfriend
- · How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore
- · The Ladder
- · 1000 X'S & 0'S
- · When She Comes
- · Satisfied
- · I Love U in Me
- · Sometimes It Snows in April
- · Automatic
- · The Beautiful Ones
- · Encore:
- · Raspberry Beret
- · Starfish and Coffee
- · Paisley Park
- · Adore