Concert For George

Various Artists

George Harrison's premature passing after a long battle with cancer on November 29, 2001 left a giant hole in the music community. For a man so beloved, some type of closure was needed. So, one year later to the very day, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Billy Preston, Jools Holland, Sam Brown, and Joe Brown gathered together at the Royal Albert Hall in London and played the Concert For George. Now, a beautifully packaged double DVD includes the entire concert without disruption on one disc, and the feature film, a short documentary and interviews with the players on the second disc. Watching the first disc is a real eye opener if you saw the movie during its theatrical limited run. There are some spectacular segments that didn't show up in the film, which itself was an overwhelming starfest bubbling over with emotion and passion — much like The Concert For Bangla Desh that Harrison staged in 1971. The similarities are striking as the show opens with the music of Ravi Shankar, masterfully played by his daughter Anoushka. After she accompanies Jeff Lynne on "The Inner Light," she conducts an Indian orchestra for an original Ravi Shankar composition written especially for George Harrison entitled "Arpan."

Monty Python reunites for a couple of bits, one with actor Tom Hanks, which shed insight into Harrison's humorous side. Once the house band bounces on stage, there's a mixture of satisfaction and jolliness in the air. Clapton, Lynne, Harrison's son Dhani, and an assortment of guitarists, keyboardists and percussionists tear through one Harrison classic after another — "I Want To Tell You," "If I Needed Someone," Old Brown Shoe," et al. Clapton gives a particularly heartfelt reading of "Beware Of Darkness." Petty and The Heartbreakers invite Lynne on stage for an exuberant run through the Traveling Wilburys' "Handle With Care." Billy Preston steps up and delivers some truly moving soulful vocals on "Isn't It A Pity" and "My Sweet Lord." McCartney and Clapton simply mesmerize the room with "Something," "All Things Must Pass" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." The concert ends on a wistful note as Joe Brown strums his ukulele amidst a cascade of brightly colored confetti dropping from the ceiling above, and intones "I'll See You In My Dreams." Of all the tributes that have taken place for fallen legends, this has to rate as one of the classiest affairs yet.

~ Shawn Perry

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