Concert for George Airs On Thirteen/WNET New York’s Great Performances on PBS
Clapton, McCartney, Starr
Honor “The Quiet Beatle”
David Leland’s acclaimed rock concert film, Concert for George – the historic Royal Albert Hall tribute to the late George Harrison – premieres on American television in an expanded 120-minute version Wednesday, March 3 at 9 p.m. (ET) on Thirteen/WNET New York’s GREAT PERFORMANCES on PBS (check local listings). Boasting additional songs not featured in the recent theatrical release, the all-star celebration – organized by the late Beatle’s wife, Olivia Harrison, and longtime family friend Eric Clapton – rocks, roars and gently touches.
On hand to pay tribute to one of their own are Clapton, Jools Holland, Jeff Lynne, Paul McCartney, Monty Python, Tom Petty, Billy Preston, Ravi and Anoushka Shankar, Ringo Starr, and Harrison’s young look-alike son, Dhani.
“It was all I hoped it would be,” says Olivia Harrison of the gala love-in, held November 29, 2002, exactly one year after the passing of music legend Harrison. “The glue that held it together was our love for George. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a band play with so much emotion and respect.”
Concurred The New York Times: “The sweet, solemn music of George Harrison has rarely sounded more majestic. The mood is upbeat but serene, and the performances capture his incense-fragrant music, with its mixture of Hindu mysticism and pop muscularity, in all its grandeur.”
In addition to the concert highlights, the evening mixes performer interviews with rehearsal and behind-the-scenes footage. Each of the performers had a personal friendship or history with “the quiet Beatle,” and the backstage moments and interviews give a sense of how deeply they felt for him.
Performance highlights include “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” featuring Clapton on guitar, McCartney on piano and Starr on drums; “Taxman,” performed by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and “The Inner Light,” covered by Jeff Lynne and Anoushka Shankar. Lynne, Harrison’s longtime friend and collaborator, produced the audio elements of the concert, while Clapton oversaw the entire proceedings as musical director.
In another memorable segment, Anoushka Shankar conducts a full orchestra performing a special composition by her father and Harrison’s mentor, Ravi Shankar, celebrating Harrison’s love of Indian classical music. The piece, entitled “Arpan,” means “offering.”
Other high points are McCartney and Clapton duetting on “Something,” with Starr on drums; Starr performing his #1 hit “Photograph” (co-written by Harrison); and Tom Hanks sitting in with Monty Python (featuring Eric Idle, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, and Neil Innes) for a rip-roaring version of “The Lumberjack Song.”
Closing the evening is Harrison’s old friend Joe Brown singing one of Harrison’s favorite standards, “I’ll See You in My Dreams,” as thousands of flower petals gently shower the audience from above.
Still a key influence in the musical scene, Harrison, whose last album, 2002’s Brainwashed, earned him three Grammy Award nominations, will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in March 2004.
Concert for George is an @radical.media production and is available on CD, VHS and DVD from Warner Strategic. Directed by David Leland, whose credits include the feature Wish You Were Here, HBO’s Band of Brothers and The Traveling Wilbury’s video Handle With Care, it is produced by Olivia Harrison, with Craig Fruin and Frank Scherma as associate producers, and Brian Roylance and Olivia Harrison as executive producers. Chris Menges (The Good Thief, Dirty Pretty Things) is director of photography; Claire Ferguson edited.
GREAT PERFORMANCES is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers and PBS. Major corporate support is provided by Ernst and Young LLP, a global leading in professional services.
Visit GREAT PERFORMANCES ONLINE at thirteen.org and pbs.org for additional information about this and other GREAT PERFORMANCES programs. The colorful Web companion contains a wide variety of images, in-depth information about the programs, and activities for teachers including lesson plans, tips and resources.
David Horn is series producer for GREAT PERFORMANCES. Jac Venza is executive