The Soulful Science of Prince’s Mad Lab Creation – fDeluxe at Bird’s Basement

To be a fan of Prince is really like taking a lesson in science. Start by getting out your microscope and studying the minute details of individual songs: the soulful hooks, the groves, and his breathtaking live performances. Take care not to get stuck in a Prince wormhole (there’s only so much time that can be considered healthy watching old Prince YouTube clips).

Beyond the minutiae, what is truly astounding about Prince’s body of work is its breadth. You might need to get out the telescope to visualise just how much material he produced. His work appears to be proof of an infinite universe, with his influence seemingly expanding at a continuously accelerating rate. Beyond the 39 (yes, 39!) full-length albums he released, modern soul artists from D’Angelo to Justin Timberlake are all sprinkled with a touch of Prince’s star dust.

In some far corner of Prince’s soul galaxy lies his side project: a band. For this he turned mad scientist, assembling it like a chemistry experiment in his famed soul laboratory, Paisley Park. Originally named ‘The Time’, then ‘The Family’, they have gone through an evolutionary process to recently reform as ‘fDeluxe’. Composed of an assortment of distinguished musicians in their own right, Prince’s ghost wrote and composed most of the lyrics and music.

I was lucky enough to see them perform at Melbourne’s next jazz institution Bird’s Basement. From the absurdly funky ‘Sanctified’, to a rendition of their original ‘Nothing Compares to You’, fDeluxe oozed soul like chemicals frothing out of an overheated Bunsen burner.

While fDeluxe was created in a Frankensteinian manner, their performance made one thing clear: beyond Prince’s omnipresence this band has taken on a life of its own. Maybe ghosts are the stuff of science fiction, but at one point during the performance I swore I could hear a falsetto Prince-like voice in the back yelling ‘IT’S ALIVE!’.  Spending a night bobbing ours heads to fDeluxe certainly made this writer and the rest of the audience feel like we are.

– Mr. Simple
Mr. Simple enjoys the simple pleasures of life.

Visit Bird’s Basement (11 Singers Lane, Melbourne) for the hottest jazz in Melbourne. Check their What’s On calendar for more great local and international acts.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Harvey Publicity.
Image credit: Diamonds and Pearls Photography.