Change Begins Within Concert Reviews

by Kathy Davis on April 5, 2009

Early reviews from the Lynch Foundation Benefit Concerts are surfacing.

Here is one from the New Jersey Star Ledger:

NEW YORK The short list of times that two ex-Beatles have performed together in public since the band’s breakup got a little longer on Saturday night, as Ringo Starr joined Paul McCartney for three songs at the “Paul McCartney and Friends: Change Begins Within” benefit concert at Radio City Music Hall.

“Ladies and gentlemen, Billy Shears … ” said McCartney, introducing Starr for the song “With a Little Help From My Friends,” where Starr sings as a character of that name. The two men shared a microphone for this song, which closed McCartney’s show-ending set. McCartney then sang lead and Starr played drums on the show’s two encores: “Cosmically Conscious” and “I Saw Her Standing There” (also featuring backing vocals and percussion by other show participants like Eddie Vedder, Donovan, Moby, Sheryl Crow and Bettye LaVette).

The show was a benefit for transcendental meditation education, and McCartney said that he wrote “Cosmically Conscious” in 1968, when Beatles members and other musicians and celebrities were studying transcendental meditation in India. McCartney released the song on his 1993 album, “Off the Ground.”

This wasn’t the first time that two ex-Beatles have taken a stage together. Starr and George Harrison performed at the 1971 “Concert for Bangladesh” at Madison Square Garden, for instance, and McCartney and Starr paid tribute to Harrison, who died in 2001, at the 2002 “Concert For George” at London’s Royal Albert Hall. But such appearances are exceedingly rare, and especially precious now that Starr and McCartney are the only surviving members of the Fab Four.

Both men sang and played with a lot of energy, and they even clowned around a little, pretending to jostle to get in front of each other as they took their final bows.

Everyone seemed aware of the significance of the occasion. McCartney also included, in his set, “Here Today,” a song he wrote about John Lennon following Lennon’s 1980 death. And Crow sang Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord.” McCartney also showed old photographs and film footage of the Beatles during songs like “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Band on the Run.”

Other songs McCartney performed included “Let It Be,” “Drive My Car,” “Jet,” “Got To Get You Into My Life,” “Lady Madonna” and “Blackbird.” McCartney said this last song was inspired by the Civil Rights movement of the ’60s, but that it takes on new meaning in light of the election of Barack Obama.

Starr, in his own set, which took place immediately before McCartney’s, sang “It Don’t Come Easy,” “Boys” and “Yellow Submarine,” with Vedder and Crow pitching in on backing vocals.

There were many surprises throughout the course of the four-hour concert. An unbilled Jerry Seinfeld did about eight minutes of standup comedy, musing on subjects like public bathrooms, taxis and marriage. Howard Stern spoke about how meditation cured his mother’s depression, and changed his own life. Vedder and Ben Harper dueted on “Under Pressure,” the 1981 Queen/David Bowie hit.

Three musicians who studied meditation in India with the Beatles in 1968 — Donovan, Paul Horn and Mike Love — made appearances.

Singer-songwriter Donovan and flutist Horn performed both separately and together. Donovan also dueted, during his set, with Jim James of My Morning Jacket (on “Hurdy Gurdy Man” and “Wear Your Love Like Heaven”) and Crow (on “Season of the Witch”).

Beach Boys member Love made a brief speech, getting choked up as he spoke about meditation and world peace. He also sang backing vocals on the two encores.

An estimated $3 million was raised at this show, and will go to the David Lynch Foundation, formed by the film director to teach children to meditate.

>>BeatlesNews.com reports:

 
Beatles reunite at the Radio City Music HallBeatles News On The Scene Special Report
by Tom Frangione and Bruce Spizer
The concert started at 7:40. Angelo Badalamenti opened the show with excerpts of the score he composed for David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks”, performed solo on piano. Moby and Betty LaVette did a brief blues set, followed by Sheryl Crow, whose set included “My Sweet Lord.”Following brief sets by Eddie Vedder and Ben Harper, which included David Bowie & Queen’s “Under Pressure,” there was a brief intermission.The show resumed with Mike Love of the Beach Boys talking about transcendental meditation (TM) and meeting the Maharishi and the trip to India with the Beatles & friends. This led nicely into a brief film about Donovan, who then took the stage to perform “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” surprisingly, without the fabled additional verse penned by George Harrison, which he often includes in live performances of the song, “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” and “Season of the Witch” with guest vocalist Sheryl Crow. He concluded with “The Isle of Ilay” accompanied by Paul Horn, who was also in Rishikesh with the Beatles, on flute. Horn then did a solo piece called “Meditation”, dedicated to John Lennon and George Harrison.In between sets, guest walk-ons included a comedy set from Jerry Seinfeld and a slightly out of character discussion about how TM changed his life.Following Stern, Ringo was introduced to the stage shortly before 10pm. For his set, he was backed by Ben Harper’s “Relentless 7″ band. He opened with “It Don’t Come Easy”, sounding vocally stronger than most recent concert outings, then took his place at the drum kit for a high energy version of “Boys”. While his drumming was solid, he opened with the second verse, which he then went on to repeat (rather than “flipping” the two). He concluded his set with a rousing sing-along rendition of “Yellow Submarine” with Sheryl Crow and Eddie Vedder joining in (another blown Donovan opportunity, as he is often credited with contributing the lyric ”sky of blue, sea of green”).As the stage was being prepared for Paul McCartney’s set, David Lynch and co-hostess Laura Dern read through a list of “thank yous” to the artists and others involved in the show, accompanied by one of the evening’s several short films about the benefits of TM. At about 10:30, Paul took the stage. His set list included:

Drive My Car
Jet
Got To Get You Into My Life
Let it Be (with GREAT background vocals from the band)
Lady Madonna
Blackbird
a touching rendition of “Here Today” in tribute to John Lennon
Band On The Run
a rave-up version of “Can’t Buy Me Love”, accompanied by film images of the Beatles in “A Hard Day’s Night”

Then the fun REALLY started. Paul introduced “Billy Shears” to the crowd and Ringo led the band through “With A Little Help From My Friends”. With Ringo on lead vocal, and Paul providing the ”response” portion, the sight of the world’s most famous rhythm section sharing a microphone was truly magical. Paul recreated his famous bass lines impeccably.

After leaving the stage (briefly), they returned with Ringo taking to drums and Paul performing the rarely heard “Cosmically Conscious” (which he told the crowd was written in Rishikesh in 1968, and which he invited the crowd to sing along on – similar to as he did for the newly written “Freedom” at the Concert For New York). While largely an unknown commodity (it appeared as a snippet at the end of the “Off The Ground” album and in complete form as a CD single bonus track), it’s “sing along” structure was easy to grasp. Paul and Ringo were joined by the cast, including Mike Love and Donovan, who could be seen in the accompanying images from Paul Salzman’s book “The Beatles In India” on the giant backdrop screens.

Following a farewell poetry reading from David Lynch (with accompanying guitar by Donovan), Paul led the band and cast through a bring-the-house-down version of “I Saw Her Standing There”, with Ringo pounding away with energy not seen in many years.

She show ended approximately 11:15.

>>Review from Newsday writer Glenn Gamboa “Best Non-Beatle Moments”

3. Eddie Vedder, “Arc”: The Pearl Jam frontman’s set just kept getting stronger, from “Far Behind” to “Rise” to the amazing “Arc,” which Vedder created onstage a capella, looping his vocals and then harmonizing with the loops before building it into a stormy, rocking primal scream.

1. Ben Harper and Eddie Vedder, “Under Pressure”: Harper and Vedder recreated the stylish tension of the Queen and David Bowie original, but added their own passion and a fire that raised it to a new level. “This is kind of an experiment,” Vedder said, introducing the song. Well, it absolutely worked.
>>Review from the New York Daily News

>>Review from the New York Times ArtsBeat Blog  Note: One of the comments claims the concert was recorded for PBS!  (Thanks, rb!)

>>Review from Billboard.com :)

>>Review from the New York Times

>>You Tube:  (thanks md, akm & rb!)

Ed doing Rise  Arc   & Guaranteed

 Ed and Ben doing Indifference   (thanks, Vale from Bugs!)

 Ed and Ben doing Under Pressure   

Ed, Ben,  Ringo doing It Don’t Come Easy & Boys 

Ed, Sheryl Crow, Ringo doing Yellow Submarine

Finale – all Cosmically Conscious

Kathy Davis ( Twitter: @CrookedArm23 )
A Bay-Area based entrepreneur, co-editor Kathy conceives and writes her share of TFT’s articles and sections. She was co-editor/co-founder of one of the first Pearl Jam fanzines "Footsteps" (1992-1997). Kathy’s first Pearl Jam show was at the Bridge School Benefit on November 1, 1992.

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