Live and Let Die : A Symphonic Tribute to the Music of Paul McCartney
Saturday, September 18
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Live and Let Die: A Symphonic Tribute to the Music of Paul McCartney Saturday, September 18 Benaroya Hall
Saturday, September 18
Imitation is flattering, but it can also be cloying. Tony Kishman, the actor and musician who stars in Live and Let Die: A Symphonic Tribute to the Music of Paul McCartney, bears an uncanny physical and vocal resemblance to the knighted former Beatle; he is also a nimble (but not left-handed) bassist and pianist. All good and well, but Kishman's on-stage affectations are where things get a bit annoying. He has a flaunting style as a performer, and in between songs he spoke in a warbled, put-on Liverpudlian accent (he's from Tucson). He must be a good actor, because I had the suspicion that up there on-stage, he actually thought he was Paul McCartney; at times it seemed like less of a tribute concert than a starring vehicle for Kishman's acting skills, and it all felt a bit strange, especially when the object of tribute is still very much alive and still authentically performing his own songs. My conclusion is, when you're seeing someone imitate someone you adore, as I do McCartney, you should know walking into it that the imitator is going to be second-rate. And ultimately that didn't prevent the evening from being an enjoyable one -- it's good to hear these songs performed, and the show was completely cheery, good-natured, and a lot of fun.
The concert started off with the woozy instrumental interlude of "Band on the Run," Kishman then appeared, flanked by Jim Owen ("John") on the rhythm guitar, keys, and vocals, John Brosnan ("George," also the only true Brit of the bunch) on lead guitar and vocals, and Chris Camilleri ("Ringo") on drums and vocals. The band did a smart job backing Kishman, and each also got to take on lead vocals in a couple non-McCartney songs in the program -- Camilleri did "Yellow Submarine," Owen did "I Am the Walrus," Brosnan did a particularly sweet and unassuming "Here Comes the Sun." Throughout the selection of Beatles and Wings songs, Kishman was best at the simpler songs like "When I'm Sixty-Four" and "Bluebird," where he could infuse his own style and personality. His voice also sounded lovely on "Yesterday," with just his acoustic guitar and the swooning cellos playing along.
And the best moments were actually when you could hear the symphony, tucked away in the back of the stage, over the band -- like the oboe solo on "Listen to What the Man Said," the sprightly trumpets on "Penny Lane," the wonderfully tense and disquieting violins on "Eleanor Rigby," the xylophone solo on "Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da," the sharp flute and piccolo on "Live and Let Die," the booming French horn on "Let 'Em In," and the percussionists clapping in beat to "I Saw Her Standing There." (I also loved when conductor Martin Herman came down and played piano during the encore of "Back in the U.S.S.R.") The symphony was the real star of the show -- they brought about speculations about what the original Fab Four would have sounded like in recording sessions for all of their classic songs. As Kishman wished upon the audience later in the show, it was an evening that brought back good memories.
Band on the Run
Listen to What the Man Said
When I'm Sixty-Four
Silly Love Songs
Here Comes the Sun
Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey
The Long and Winding Road
Live and Let Die
I Saw Her Standing There
I Am the Walrus
Maybe I'm Amazed/My Love/Let 'Em In
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End
Back in the U.S.S.R.