Any aficionado over fifty knows by now the hype was greater than the result: Lennon, with his new band, headlining the 1969 Toronto Peace festival. On the eve of the Abbey Road album release, Lennon set out to prove he wasn't a Beatle anymore with Ono, Clapton., Klaus Voorman, future Yes drummer Alan White and flew off towards their once rehearsed destiny.
D.A. Penebaker's (Don't Look Back, Monterey Pop) up close immediacy brings to life explosive performances by Jerry Lee Lewis, Bo Diddley, and Little Richard's cataclysmic Lucille. But the energy, if not the expectation, quickly dissipates as Lennon and his wary band take the stage to deliver totally mundane and rudimentary versions of Blue Suede Shoes, Money, and Dizzy Miss Lizzie, making you wonder how far back those pre-mania Hamburg days had really fallen. Adding insult to injury, Lennon barely manages to stoke a spark under his own creations, namely Yer Blues, Cold Turkey and a ramshackle Give Peace A Chance.
Is it any wonder than, after all these years, I find Yoko's two free form improvisational pieces Don't Worry Kyoko and John, John (Let's Hope For Peace) still as ear splittingly pretentious as ever, but oddly liberating, as the band riffs on distractedly while Lennon, never the greatest of improvisers, fiddles with his feedback, letting the drone speak for itself: The Beatles, indeed, were over.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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