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Various Artists: George Fest: A Night to Celebrate the Music of George Harrison

Album Reviews:

Rolling Stone - "There are a few genuine highlights, whether it's Best Fest regular Norah Jones shining on her yearning take of 'Behind That Locked Door,' or Ann Wilson offering an impassioned rendition of 'Beware of Darkness.'"

Album Notes

George Fest: A Night to Celebrate George Harrison happened at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles on September 28, 2014 and the whole shindig appeared in a variety of incarnations -- CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, and downloads -- in February of 2016, a few days after what would've been the Beatle's 73rd birthday. His son Dhani directed the concert and, with the exception of Brian Wilson and Heart's Ann Wilson, he favored alt-rock stars of the 2000s: the Killers' Brandon Flowers, Nick Valensi from the Strokes, Spoon's Britt Daniel, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cold War Kids, and the Flaming Lips form the backbone of this tribute. Around this core orbit some names that seem suitable (Norah Jones, Ben Harper, Perry Farrell), some that seem odd (Ian Astbury, Karen Elson), and some that seem like ringers (Conan O'Brien, Weird Al Yankovic), but this group is united by an affection for George Harrison, a love that runs so deep that none of the crew even make feints toward possible reinterpretations of the tunes. Everybody plays the songs they love in the way they learned them, so the highlights fall along the spectrum of sensitivity to enthusiasm. Norah Jones excels on both "Something" and "Behind That Locked Door," Karen Elson treats "I'd Have You Anytime" as a torch song, and Daniel sways handsomely to "I Me Mine," while Dhani throws himself into "Let It Down" and the two nominal comedians, Conan and Weird Al, tear it up on "Old Brown Shoe" and "What Is Life," respectively. That's enough to provide a hook for this lengthy concert but the lasting impression of George Fest is not about the performances here but rather the depth and range of Harrison's work, which perhaps is how it should be. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine


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