You know when something is so over stimulating that you can’t take it in from moment to moment? You take some of it in but so much of it spills over that you go into emotional Aspergers meaning your system sputters. My system was sputtering so much I could feel molecules rearranging while watching the tribute to the Beatles last Sunday night
Well heck, Yoko Ono, seated in the front row, was standing practically the whole time and I needed to stand up, too. Yoko Ono was dancing around and waving her arms so I started dancing around and waving my arms. Yoko Ono was doing some lame/cool moves. I pretended I could do some cool moves. Even Tom Hanks was grooving (ugh is that word even anything?) and so was Rita Wilson.
I tried to keep my eyes on Paul and Ringo to see their reactions to each group on stage. Paul kept mouthing the lyrics like a parent with a kid in the school musical. He clapped politely to a few songs but then Annie Lennox sang Fool On the Hill “The man with the foolish grin is keeping perfectly still.” Then that cool porkpie hat wearing Dave Stewart (with whom Annie had some serious emotional baggage and estrangement) came sauntering downstage strumming his guitar. Paul was very happy. Paul and Ringo stood up and cheered for Annie and Dave. Paul stood up and sent kisses to a few. Can you imagine how that might feel? I’m sure I would fall down.
When some of the musicians were doing guitar solos (there was a lot of that) Paul and Ringo were sort of nodding as if to say, “yeah, that’s about right, keep going.”
Although their wives sat next to Paul and Ringo, there was no interaction between husbands and wives – not even a glance. There were no nudges, no sharing of this night. This was for them alone and their two dead colleagues. I kept wondering how Nancy Shevell (in print they still call her Nancy Shevell although legally she is Nancy McCartney. “Paul and wife, Nancy Shevell enjoy a splash in the sea.”) likes being married to Paul. Does he ever look at her? Does he? Huh? Does he? Yoko brought her son Sean who is all bearded and long-haired. Olivia Harrison, George’s widow was there with their son Dhani who performed with one of the acts. Olivia looked excited but she stayed in her seat.
The New York Times said some of the performances were tense and studious. I think Maroon 5 fit that category. Maroon 5 opened the show with All My Loving and Ticket to Ride. Adam Levine looked incredibly neat and contained with his hair all slick as he sang, “I think I’m gonna be sad I think it’s today, yeah.” But that was better than those that went all radical interpretation. Just sing the songs we know.
There were several misses. Katy Perry sounded awful. I don’t know if I can forgive her for ruining Yesterday and not because she changed the gender in the lyrics. Her rendition was strained and unmelodious. Alicia Keys over pronounced and over emoted Let It Be (a song that needs zero embellishment) facing John Legend over dual pianos. Stevie Wonder warned that he was going to fool around with We Can Work It Out but I liked his familiar Stevie Wonder style on “Run the risk of knowing that our love may soon be gone.”
John Mayer and Keith Urban stood out for awkwardness. The collaboration ended with a guitar jam that went on too long and made Keith contort himself in a human comma. For some reason that I can’t define, I want Keith Urban to succeed. Maybe it’s for Nicole and that whole crazy Tom Cruise phase with the adopted children and the Eyes Wide Shut movie of erotic gamesmanship directed by Stanley Kubrick who died a week after completing the edit. John Mayer did not help Nicole’s husband look good. John all but ignored Keith even though Keith was playing his heart out. The song they sang, one of my favorites, Don’t Let Me Down, was just okay. I remember seeing a u-tube video of a father and his two-year-old belting out the same song and it was wonderful. The baby screaming the line (with perfect diction) “don’t let me down,” after his dad and then trying to complete, “nobody ever loved me like she does.” I think it came out “bady lala she does. Yes, she does.”
When it was the boys’ turn, Paul and Ringo hit it out of the park. Ringo came out looking like a champ. He was gracious, relaxed and in good physical and musical form. Paul and Ringo each did a few songs alone and then came together for Hey Jude. Paul invited the audience to sing with him. We were happy to oblige. “Na na na na na na na.”