It looks like street artist Mr. OneTeas is at it again with his very fun Wack Donald’s Project, in which he paints the clown face of Ronald McDonald on various pop culture icons. I spotted John Lennon and Alfred E. Newman side by side on a traffic barrier at 26th Street and 11th Avenue in the Chelsea Gallery District.
For Beatles fans who crave an authentic performance experience of the group’s expansive catalog of music, there is certainly no shortage of grand scale productions, which range from Rain and Let it Be on Broadway to 1964 The Tribute – an act that regularly sells out Carnegie Hall. But for fans who maintain a keen interest in the life and post-Beatles career of John Lennon specifically, Lennon: Through a Glass Onion offers something completely different.
Now in evening and matinee performances at the Union Square Theater, Lennon: Through a Glass Onion, is an intimate, two-man show featuring esteemed actor and singer John R. Waters and accompanist Stewart D’Arrietta, which originally saw sell-out tours in the duo’s native Australia. While there are no dazzling lights, clever sets, informative backdrops or special effects to bolster this very stripped down production, what you get is a heartfelt acoustic performance (guitar and piano – and D’Arrietta’s piano playing is quite excellent) of a selection of over thirty of John Lennon’s best and most autobiographical songs – both written with Paul McCartney while in The Beatles, and written and recorded by Lennon as a solo artist.
Tying the musical numbers together is Water’s biographical narrative of John Lennon’s often traumatic youth and tumultuous adulthood, the ups and down of which are punctuated and fleshed out by songs he wrote at that time. Although Water’s speaking voice is appealingly similar to Lennon’s, his (often quite gravelly) singing voice is not, so don’t expect the “close your eyes and imagine it is really him” effect that you can get with so many tributes. Through a Glass Onion is really more like watching two hardcore John Lennon fans perform his songs and talk about his life in a pub setting. This may or may not be your thing, so just know what you are walking into a ahead of time.
In order to fit thirty songs into a 90-minute run time, many of the songs are performed as excerpts of various lengths, but you get the idea. Likewise, some liberty is taken with traditional arrangements, which finds “Help!” – one of The Beatles‘ most exhilarating anthems – performed almost as a dirge. Sometimes the alternative arrangements work and other times not so much.
It’s also unclear how much of the biographical information is simply improvised or creatively extrapolated based on various facts but, again, it is easy to imagine that Waters is speaking as Lennon and the story all comes together. As an aside, fans seeking more information about John Lennon’s life as a child and teenager, including the not-very-happy story about his relationship with his mother Julia – which had such a profound influence on so many of his songs — might be better served by the 2009 film, Nowhere Boy. You can find it on Netflix.
An added note about the venue, for those who’ve not yet been to the Union Square Theater, is that you are in for treat in this pristinely maintained, old school theater where every very comfy seat offers optimal viewing, so you don’t have to stretch your ticket buying budget to get the best seat in the house. The theater is also conveniently located three blocks uptown from the Union Square subway hub and is within blocks of dozens of excellent restaurants — so you can plan a night of it!
Lennon: Through a Glass Onion will run through February 22nd, 2015 at the Union Square Theater, located at 100 East 17th Street (Between Park Ave South and Irving Place), New York, NY 10003. Visit Lennon Onstage Dot Com for more information about the show, to get show times and to purchase tickets!
Snagged this one from the Huffington Post
The Beatles are credited with being the first to do many things such as printing lyrics on a pop album, creating music videos and holding a stadium concert, but most bizarre is their role in the “devil horns” hand gesture taking off. John Lennon’s cartoon figure on the Yellow Submarine cover is apparently the first time the symbol was on the cover of an album and is one of the earliest instances associated with a rock band, ever.
This song reminds me of going to Prom if Prom had been a halfway decent memory for me. See how many pop culture icons you can spot in this lovely and whimsical video by The Griswolds for their very sweetly romantic and nostalgia inducing song, “Red Tuxedo.” Find out more about The Griswolds at their FaceBook page, found at This Link! Enjoy!
On Thursday, February 6th, one of our favorite venues, the Morrison Hotel Gallery on Prince Street launched a truly exceptional photography show celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ first arrival in the States in 1964.
This exhibit was curated by Julian Lennon, who personally selected 50 photographs of his late father, John Lennon, and his band mates Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison to honor the 50th Anniversary celebration, which has been marked by a variety of events this week including the Fest for Beatles Fans going on it NYC this weekend. Twenty-five photos are on exhibit at MHG’s New York space with an additional twenty-five on display at its sister gallery in Los Angeles.
Here are a few of my favorite pictures from the Opening Reception (Keep in mind that the quality of these original photographs is vastly superior to my representations).
Pattie Boyd, former wife of George Harrison and muse who inspired songs like “Something” and “For You Blue” was at the reception and graciously signed my copy of her book.
Needless to say, but you can see I am about to, This exhibit is not to be missed for any Beatles Fan.
The Morrison Hotel Gallery is now Located in its New Space at 116 Prince Street, Second Floor NYC.
If there was ever a pop star born with a more sizeable share of outrageous talent than most mere mortals, it is Paul McCartney. Not only is he among the most celebrated and successful song writers in the world, an innovative bass player who also plays the drums, piano and guitar equally well, a charismatic public figure and one of the best looking men on the planet (seriously, in his 20s and 30s, especially, McCartney could hold a close up for days) but he was a member of The fucking Beatles – the greatest band ever in the Universe of All Time. And the craziest thing about Paul McCartney’s many-decades long career is that he has made everything he does look easy. That, my friend, is the mark of a truly gifted and legendary artist.
Paul McCartney still tours, and if he happens to be playing in your city and you have $500 burning a hole in your pocket, you can buy a ticket to go see him. If that price seems a little out of your range, you might consider buying a ticket to see ROCKSHOW, a 1980 concert film by McCartney and his then-band Wings, which is coming to theaters Worldwide on May 15th, and here in the States starting May 16th. That would be a lot cheaper and you’ll probably get better seats! Filmed during the North American leg of the band’s 1976 Wings Over The World Tour, the two-hour plus length film features 30 songs from four concerts of the tour: New York, May 25 (four songs); Seattle, June 10 (five songs); Los Angeles, June 22 (15 songs); and Los Angeles, June 23 (six songs). This tour also spawned the triple live album, Wings Over America.
Although I am as crazy for the music of The Beatles today as I was at age five, when I first discovered the soundtrack of the film HELP! thanks to my older sister, Wings was never a band that yanked my chain all that much. I was probably listening to Alice Cooper and a lot of German Prog Rock at that time, so, I was surprised at the intense waves of deep nostalgia that washed over me as I sat rapt for two hours watching ROCKSHOW on my iMac so I could write this review. Little did I know then that, nearly forty years onward, Wings’ songs would sound like the Classical music of its time! The set list for ROCKSHOW is comprised of tracks from the albums Red Rose Speedway, Band on the Run, Venus and Mars and Wings at the Speed of Sound and some of McCartney’s early solo work, while being favorably augmented by many Beatles’ classics. What a great concert experience this film serves up!
Paul McCartney & Wings included McCartney’s wife and muse, keyboardist Linda McCartney (RIP), drummer Joe English, guitarists Denny Laine and Jimmy McCulloch (RIP) plus a four piece horn section. Demonstrating that wings was as egalitarian a band as any fronted by a former Beatle, Paul frequently hands over lead vocal duties to Laine and McCulloch, beginning early in the set with “Spirits of Ancient Egypt” and “Medicine Jar,” respectively. Laine also reprises his lead vocal performance of The Moody Blues’ early #1 hit, “Go Now” and shows himself to be a remarkably charismatic front man on the urgent and compelling “Time To Hide.” Although the cameras can tend to linger on McCartney’s ridiculously handsome visage for endless minutes at a time (not complaining), everyone in the group is represented, reinforcing the fact that Wings was a true “band of brothers,” so to speak and not just a group of hired musicians supporting McCartney as a solo act.
Paul can rock out with his bass like the great front man that he is, but some of my favorite moments in the film are when he’s behind the piano for songs like “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “The Long & Winding Road” and the jaunty “You Gave Me The Answer,” which McCartney dedicates to Fred Astaire. Not quite midway through the show, the band pull up chairs at the front of the stage for an extended acoustic set featuring “Picasso’s Last Words,” a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Richard Cory,” a stunning rendition of “Bluebird” and a fun, uber-countrified version of “I’ve Just Seen a Face” (from the US release of The Beatles’ Rubber Soul album). But it’s on McCartney’s solo acoustic performance of “Blackbird” where the dark sensibilities that John Lennon helped to infuse into McCartney’s songcraft can really be heard. Moments like these are extremely bitter sweet.
I liked that, even though this was a BIG ROCK SHOW, they didn’t need to rely on explosions or shit flying through the air to make a memorable impression. McCartney and his band let the music do the talking and it never fails to be less than completely magical. The size of the stage – as well as the size of the venue – reveals that this was a huge production, but the show is refreshingly easy on the Las Vegas-style lighting effects, save for a spot strobe used to great effect during the horn sections of “Live and Let Die,” and a smoke and laser effect that makes it look as if the band is performing in outer space during the final number, “Soily.”
ROCKSHOW is a do not miss film for any fan of The Beatles, Paul McCartney or 70s Rock. The film will be shown in over 700 cities worldwide, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Cape Town, Sydney, Rome, Warsaw, Bucharest, Prague, Hamburg, San Paolo, Rio DeJaneiro, Buenos Aires, and many other cities across the U.S., Mexico, Asia, Europe and South America. These special theatrical presentations will include a bonus 12-minute interview with McCartney. Tickets for ROCKSHOW are available at participating theater box offices and online at Rock Show On Screen Dot Com, where you can also look for a screening in your area. Running time is 141 minutes. ROCKSHOW will be released on DVD and Blu-ray on June 11th, 2013.
1.-3. “Venus And Mars”/“RockShow”/ “Jet”
4. “Let Me Roll It”
5. “Spirits Of Ancient Egypt”
6. “Medicine Jar”
7. “Maybe I’m Amazed”
8. “Call Me Back Again”
9. “Lady Madonna”
10. “The Long And Winding Road”
11. “Live And Let Die”
12. “Picasso’s Last Words”
13. “Richard Cory”
15. “I’ve Just Seen A Face”
18. ”You Gave Me The Answer”
19. “Magneto And Titanium Man”
20. “Go Now”
21. “My Love”
22. “Listen To What The Man Said”
23. “Let ‘Em In”
24. “Time To Hide”
25. “Silly Love Songs”
26. “Beware My Love”
27. “Letting Go”
28. “Band on the Run”
29. “Hi, Hi, Hi”