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Wednesday, February 17, 2010

We Are Plastic Ono Band @ BAM

I have to be honest. I knew very, VERY little about the musical works of Yoko Ono until about 2 years ago. You see, my lady friend is a HUGE fan. She's a big of a fan as you can get, as far as Yoko is concerned. She knows facts and stories that one would never know, unless you were a true fan. And until she educated me, the only thing that I really knew about Mrs. Ono-Lennon was that she was a conceptual artist, who dabbled in music, and may or may not have broken up The Beatles. Well, the Beatles thing I knew on my own-- of course she didn't break them up; they were on there way to break up land before The White Album was made. 

What I didn't know was that Yoko Ono is one of the most prolific and influential artists in music. Listening to her work, it's clear that she has been a strong impression on modern music for the last 30-40 years. People tend to bust her chops for her vocalizations, but that's not the only thing that makes up her sound. The beats, melodies, arrangements, variations in style-- it's almost hard to believe that this is all coming from this one (tiny) person; she was Beck before Beck! From Stereolab, to Pink Floyd, to The Pixies, to Sonic Youth-- you name it. You hear her sound virtually EVERYWHERE. It was shocking to me that this once-maligned woman is, in fact, an amazing force in modern music-- with, or without, John Lennon. 

So when Yoko revived The Plastic Ono Band in "Between My Head & The Sky", with son Sean acting as producer/performer, I was very interested; I really enjoyed Sean's two solo albums, and his work with Cibo Matto. The album is great, and like all great music, needs to be played over and over again to truly take it all in. I don't think I am really ready to talk at length about it, because there's just a lot to take in. 

Flash forward to February, 2010. Brooklyn Academy of Music presents "We Are Plastic Ono Band." Needless to say, my lady friend was ALL OVER THAT. We saw both performances; the "Dress Rehearsal" and the main show. And both nights were fantastic!

The show begins with a short film (edited by Sean), chronicling the life and times of Mrs. Ono-Lennon, starting with baby pictures, then flashing forward to her life as an artist/filmmaker, which then leads to where most people know her best; her collaborations with Beatle John. The film ends with John's death, and Yoko's eventual rise to where she stands today. And when the projection screen ascends, Yoko walks out. And then the show begins.

The show was divided into two acts. The first, with the new incarnation of the Plastic Ono Band, featuring Sean Lennon, Cornelius, and Yuka Honda. The first set was a mix of old and new-- with songs like "Mind Train", "Walking on Thin Ice", and "Higa Noboru". To see her up there, that little tiny, 77 year-old woman (she is so small!!!) dancing and singing and doing her thing-- how could you not love her?! I had had this impression of her as being a very passive, meek woman who hardly spoke. But what I saw was someone full of life, effervescent, fun and funny! But that was just the beginning...


The second act was full of special guests, who each did their own covers of Yoko songs. The Scissor Sisters came out first and covered "The Sun is Down", and kicked ass (as always). Then Sean did a duet of "Oh Yoko" with Gene Ween (wow!).  Justin Bond (Kiki, of Kiki and Herb) covered "What a Bastard the World Is" brilliantly, with a flair of irony that was not lost on the audience. Paul Simon did a duet with his son Harper Simon, and covered "Silverhorse" and John Lennon's "Hold On" (Holy Crap!). BETTE MIDLER freakin' covered "I'm Your Angel" in an incredible performance that Sean had compared to something that one would find on Brian Wilson's "Smile" (he said that Bette arranged the number herself, even teaching him a thing or two about how the drums should be played...'cause he played drums on the song!!!).  There was also an amazing rendition of "Mulberry" with Yoko, Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon (Sonic "feakin'" Youth!!!).

One of the show-stoppers, however, was the reunion of three of the original members of the Plastic Ono Band, featuring Klaus Voorman, Jim Keltner, and Eric Clapton, with Sean Lennon. Everyone practically died when they did a rendition of "Yer Blues", with Sean filling in for his dad (he seems to have the same tendency to flub lyrics, like the old man-- but it was outstanding!). CLARIFICATION: My lady made a great point, regarding the "flubbed" lyric, which was "My mother is of the Earth, My father is of the sky"...which, in context of his life as opposed to lyrical accuracy, makes perfect sense). And finally, the show ended with everyone back on stage to join in "Give Peace a Chance". All-in-all, it was a great show...but that was not the end of things.

Through a special connection, we were able to attend the wrap party after the show, which was held in the café/restaurant on the second floor. This was it-- the moment that my lady had been waiting for-- her chance to have a one-on-one meeting with Yoko Ono! And let me tell you, it was nerve-wracking and TOUGH.

The place wasn't all that crowded, but there were quite a few people there. We were at the party for about 20 minutes before I spotted Yoko. I thought she was small on stage-- wow! Tiny lady. But my lady got super nervous, and said she couldn't do it. But that's not right-- we came this far, this HAD to happen! So she suggested that we try Sean, first. Now, you have to understand that there were people CONSTANTLY approaching these two, all vying to be seen and be recognized and be acknowledged by this legendary musical family. So when I stepped to Sean, every single time there was an opportunity to say something, someone else jumped in!! Pain in the ASS!! But I understood it, and I didn't want to be pushy. The reason we were there in the first place is because our connection knew Sean; so, he was expecting us-- which was perfect! But when I had my next opening, someone says to Sean "Come on-- we have to sing Happy Birthday to your mom!" (her birthday is this week-- 77 years old!).

By this point, my lady is getting a bit discouraged. But as far as I was concerned, this was not over(!). So, after "Happy Birthday", I had my chance. After Sean had finished talking to the latest person, I put my hand on his should. He turned to face me, and I said "I promised (insert connection's name here) that I would thank you for inviting us up to see you guys after the show."  And he smiled and said to us "Oh, you came! Great!" And then...some freakin' blonde jumps up to Sean, screeching about what a big fan he is, and how much she loved the show, and can she get him a drink...and that was that. He turned away, and moved on to the others. F*CK!!! My lady was not pleased. So I said, "We're going back to Yoko!"

And back to Yoko, I found a way in! Her assistant was there, introducing Yoko to different people. This could work...! So I stepped to the assistant, introduced myself, introduced my lady, and briefly told our story. She looked at me and said, "Just give me a minute." And five minutes later, my lady and John Lennon's lady were meeting! She was so nice, and so sweet, and very gracious! And as I watched Yoko give my lady a hug, I couldn't help but feel happy. Then, as Yoko made her way to their VIP area, my lady looked at me and said, "I'm ready to go home." And we did.

It was a great night. And the Lennon's are very talented, very sweet people. The show and the night itself had such a nice, familial, and happy couldn't leave that building without being feeling good. I'm not sure if anyone will ever be able to experience what turned out to be a night of firsts, and possibly a night of only's. But it was, for sure, a night that no one in attendance will ever forget.
Two Thumbs Up for The Plastic Ono Band!!!! Or, rather, two fingers....


1 comment:

Sue V'd said...

Fabulous recap and great photos! I also love how you call your lady "my lady." She is lucky, and you both are so lucky to have met Sean and Yoko. Glad I can link to your blog when people ask me "How was the concert?" Keep it up.