John Lennon Songbook 70th Birthday
This was a concert last night to commemorate John’s 70th birthday by telling the story of his life through his songs. A reprise of the concert given in 2008 it featured the same cast, Mark McGann, Claire Martin and Curtis Stigers singing and John Wilson conducting the RLPO. The script was by Bob Eaton.
Starting with In My Life it covered John’s early Beatles songs and linked them to events in his life. Julia told of his pain of losing his mother, You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away was the song for Cynthia, John’s first wife and the first half ended with All You Need is Love.
The second half of the concert recorded his later songs written largely after meeting Yoko. All the favourites were there including Strawberry Fields Forever, Jealous Guy, Free as a Bird and the concert finished with Imagine.
Mark McGann was great as narrator and singer, he played John, and jazz singers Curtis Stigers and Claire Martin gave marvellous interpretations of his songs. A special mention for the duet by Claire and Curtis of Two of Us, sublime. John Wilson and the Phil did a stand out interpretation of Beautiful Boy.
This was truly a fitting birthday celebration and the RLPO in the hands of John Wilson were once again outstanding. This concert is worth recording and I hope that the Phil’s management will do this either on CD or better still as a special BBC Proms performance.
A standing ovation after the final song, Imagine, and an encore of All You Need is Love. The audience wouldn’t let the cast leave and Mark ended the night singing Happy Birthday to You!
The overwhelming feeling I got from the concert transcended the musical experience. It struck me that for a man whose public persona was that of anti-establishement, chip on his shoulder, aggressive Liverpudlian, his songs were all about love and peace. His legacy still lives on in his songs and his call for love, peace and understanding is more pertinent today than it has ever been.
A great night!!!
My Verdict – 5/5