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Beatles reunite at the Radio City Music Hall

Beatles 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
Got To Get You Into My Life
Let it Be (with GREAT background vocals from the band)
Lady Madonna
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.

Published April 4, 2009

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