Reinterpretations of Lennon
On December 5, 2015, an eclectic group of international musicians gathered at New York’s Madison Square Garden (in the refurbished Felt Forum, for those who remember that celebrated mid-town venue) to commemorate what would have been John Lennon’s 75th birthday. This heavily edited, 103-minute broadcast of the event is hosted by Kevin Bacon and, because of the quality and passion of the songwriting, is noticeably better than a lot of these tribute shows. With Yoko Ono looking on approvingly from the first row (and popping up on stage to deliver a gushing thank you to the talent), the roster includes Eric Church, Sheryl Crow, Juanes, Train’s Pat Monahan, the Roots, Chris Stapleton and Willie Nelson, plus remote tributes from Ringo Starr, who performs, and Paul McCartney, who doesn’t. Highlights include a pre-credits Come Together by Steven Tyler, Aloe Blacc’s gospel-tinged version of Watching the Wheels, he Killers’ Brandon Flowers eerily matching Lennon’s vocals on Instant Karma, John Fogerty’s In My Life and Give Peace a Chance, and a terrific Happy Christmas ( War is Over) fronted by Peter Frampton. Also worth singling out are Kris Kristofferson’s take on Working Class Hero (naturally), Tom Morello’s rollicking Power to the People and a pair of rockers from Spoon ( Hey Bulldog and Cold Turkey). Many of the artists team up for their numbers, and the whole gang wraps things up with the Beatles’ All You Need is Love, shambling but somehow perfect. The crack house band includes veteran white-bearded bassist Leland Sklar, road-tested drummer Kenny Aronoff and former Letterman band members Sid McGinnis and Felicia Collins, directed by former Eric Clapton keyboardist Greg Phillinganes. Saturday, 8.30pm, Foxtel Arts.
Steven Tyler and Yoko Ono at the John Lennon 75th Birthday Concert