Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band
Yoko Ono - vocals
Sean Lennon - guitar / bass / piano / drums / vocals
Yuka Honda - keyboards
Keigo Oyamada - guitar / tenori-on / electronics
Shimmy Hirotaka Shimizu - guitar / bass
Yuko Araka - drums
Michael Leonhart - trumpet
Erik Friedlander - cello
Scissor Sisters: Ana Matronic and Jake Shears - vocals
Justin Bond - vocals
Gene Ween - guitar / vocals
Sonic Youth: Kim Gordon - guitar, Thurston Moore - guitar
Bette Middler - vocals
Paul Simon - guitar, vocals
Harper Simon - guitar, vocals
Eric Clapton - guitar
Klaus Voorman - bass
Jim Keltner - drums
Act I - Yoko Ono / Plastic Ono Band:
01. It Happened
02. Waiting For The D Train / Why - with Mark Ronson
03. Between My Head And The Sky
04. Rising - with Haroumi Hosono
05. Walking On Thin Ice - with Haroumi Hosono
06. Moving Mountains - with Haroumi Hosono
07. Calling - with Haroumi Hosono
08. Mind Train / Ask The Elephant - with Haroumi Hosono
09. Higa Noboru - with Haroumi Hosono
Act II - The Guests:
01. The Sun Is Down - Scissor Sisters
02. What A Bastard The World Is - Justin Bond
03. Oh Yoko - Gene Ween
04. Mulberry - Yoko Ono, Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore
05. Yes, I'm Your Angel - Bette Midler
06. Silverhorse - Paul Simon, Harper Simon
07. Yer Blues - Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman, Jim Keltner, Sean Lennon
08. Death Of Samantha - Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman, Jim Keltner, Sean Lennon
09. Don't Worry Kyoko - Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman, Jim Keltner, Sean Lennon
10. Give Peace A Chance - All *
* with new lyrics for the current day by Yoko Ono. Eric Clapton did not take part in the impromptu encore
This event was filmed and recorded - release information is currently unknown.
Although Martha Wainwright was listed as a guest in advertising for the concert, she did not appear. The programme noted, "We regret that Martha Wainwright is unable to perform this evening as planned. Our thoughts are with her and her family."
Harkening back to the Live Peace In Toronto Concert in 1969 and "bagism", Yoko began "Yer Blues" in a large bag on stage which she climbed out of mid-song.
Eric's guitars for the evening were a Daphne Blue signature stratocaster for the first two songs and black (?) signature stratocaster set up for slide for "Don't Worry Kyoko".
Review by David Osepowicz / Florence, MA
I must say that Eric seemed to be in a very good mood at the "We Are Plastic Ono Band" performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in February 16. I was totally psyched for this concert and I was not let down. The usual three hour drive to New York took four and a half hours because the weather was the pits. Snow, sleet, cloudy and cold. The driving was horrendous. But I arrived, found a free on-street parking spot and explored Brooklyn for awhile. I brought Eric's autobiography with me with hopes of him signing it but it was not to be. The artists were let off on the street about fifteen feet from the backstage door of the BAM venue and walked in from there. Only Klaus Voorman signed for fans. Everybody else walked in and out without signing. Eric could barely be recognized with his heavy hooded winter jacket. He arrived at the venue at approximately 1:00 pm and left at 2:15 pm. I believe he visited the venue to check out the situation because as far as I could hear there was not a full band rehearsal, although I admit I was not there the entire time. However, during the actual performance Sean Lennon mentioned (before "Death of Samantha") that when choosing the songs to perform for the concert he thought "D of S" would be a good one considering it is a fairly easy song to play and that there was not going to be a rehearsal with Eric.
When I received the program for the performance I nearly jumped when I saw the songs that would involve Eric (the program listed all of the performers and who would be performing them). And to see the names listed for the three song group: Yoko Ono, Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman, Jim Keltner and Sean Lennon. Wow!!
Within seconds of Paul and Harper Simon completing their two-song selection, the curtain behind them rose and there they were. The over forty years ago Plastic Ono Band. "Yer Blues" showcased Sean Lennon on lead vocal. Yoko contribution was minimal, but Eric, Klauss and Jim really gelled. Afterwards Sean mentioned how Eric had given him a brief guitar lesson on how to play a certain part. It was sweet. Death of Samantha was Yoko on vocals and Eric playing as close to blues as you can get with a Yoko show. I liked the idea that the band was a bit loose and I felt they were challenging themselves to pull it all off successfully for an admiring audience, which seemed to really make them think what they were doing, and because they were backing Yoko Ono (not the most conventional of artists) it allowed them the opportunity to use their imagination. I feel this came through especially during "D of S" where you had an Eric blues solo but with a bit of an avant-guarde take on it all. ("D of S" brought on some of the other musicians for supplementation.)
Back to the core group, Don't Worry Kyoko was just cool. I could not stop smiling. This was THE Plastic Ono Band. They rocked. Plain and simple.
Eric was smiling and interacting with the band often during the twenty minute set. True smiles. He really seemed pleased to be there. You could see he was visibly touched when Yoko announced how important it was for Eric to be there. And it wasn't only because Eric is a guarantee of ticket sales. It was more of a real appreciation that he agreed to perform at her retrospective concert because it was just that...a retrospective concert celebrating her 77th birthday (in two days) and how he was with her those many, many years ago.
After Don't Worry Kyoko Yoko embraced Eric and with my binoculars I could see that besides thanking him she asked him if he would join in on the encore and his response was something like "I haven't played it in awhile, but I am willing to give it a try". I was hoping for Cold Turkey, but it was Give Peace a Chance. And he did not appear.
I wish I could be technical with Eric's guitars, but......all I know is that he played a baby blue Fender for Death of Samantha, and switched to a dark colored Fender for Don't Worry Kyoko. I don't remember what he used for Yer Blues (I was just so excited to be witnessing the band as a unit.)
It was a very structured affair as far as song selection, etc, but the performances themselves were loose and a certain charm was evident throughout. This show was a huge success in so many ways, but one giant thank you to Eric for taking it all to another level. Thank you, Eric.
Review by John MacDonald
In the lobby Yoko's film "Bottoms" played on a non-stop loop - close ups of people's rear ends. Various Yoko "art" was on display around the lobby: a Wish Tree, Apple, War is Over poster, etc. The show opened with a film compilation of Yoko. About 30% John content.
Yoko opened by saying, "Sean, give me a G!" This was the funniest part of the night to me - does it matter what he plays? She isn't going to sing it!
Act I - Yoko and her current Plastic Ono Band (Sean and some others). Musically they were a good, tight band. The songs in order (there was a program, else I wouldn't know most of the titles):
- It Happened
Basically a short poem. Fine.
- Waiting for the D Train/Why
Actually pretty good. She was "singing" and the music was good. Now the fun begins...
- Between My Head and the Sky
- Walking on Thin Ice
- Moving Mountains
- Mind Train/Ask the Elephant
- Higa Noboru
All but that last one were one or two chord (mostly one) vamps while Yoko added shrieks, screams and apparently some lyrics whenever she felt like it. Each song was way too long. This is what I expected.
Act II - Guests artists
- The Sun is Down - Scissor Sisters.
An energetic (and in tune) take of a Yoko song I don't know. Decent enough.
- What a Bastard the World Is - Justin Bond.
A guy dressed in drag singing a feminist song. Entertaining to a point.
- Oh Yoko - Gene Ween & Sean Lennon.
Acoustic duet. The first John song of the night. Very good.
- Mulberry - Yoko with Kim Gordan and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.
Yoko's intro made this seem like it was a delicate little song, but it was the two Sonic Youths making noise on guitars as Yoko wails and screams. Earplugs were invented for a reason.
- Yes, I'm Your Angel - Bette Midler.
One of Yoko's few tolerable songs, from Double Fantasy. Kind of a '30's style tune. Bette did a nice job and the song was a good fit for her.
- Silverhorse - Paul Simon/Harper Simon
Acoustic duet. Paul can make any song his own, even a Yoko song. Best performance of the night if not for...
- Hold On - Paul Simon/Harper Simon
Brilliant take on a lesser known Lennon song. A great choice. Highlight of the night.
Then came the reason I went to the show - the REAL Plastic Ono Band: Eric Clapton, Klaus Voorman and Jim Keltner.
- Yer Blues
A cluster f**k. Sean sang and started the song when Keltner was clearly not ready, so there were no drums until nearly the second verse. Yoko's mic wasn't working (a blessing) but a stagehand stupidly brought out a new one. She wailed over it, but not too loudly and I could tune her out. Keltner was clearly annoyed, Clapton looked like he wanted to be anywhere but on that stage and Klaus seemed to smirk at the disaster. Clapton's solo was great, of course, but then Sean tried to cut the song off as in the Rock and Roll Circus performance of the same song. Didn't quite work and the ending was awkward.
- Death of Samantha - Yoko, Sean Lennon, Clapton, Voorman, Keltner.
Yoko "sang" but Clapton's guitar work and two solos were fantastic, so overall it was a really good performance. The POB found its groove. Until...
- Don't Worry Kyoko - Yoko, Sean Lennon, Clapton, Voorman, Keltner.
The song was always a cluster f**k and this performance was no different. Noise. A waist of good musicians.
The band left the stage. Yoko came out to talk with a flashlight. Pen lights were on the arms of every seat when the show started, so many people began to turn those on. She explained that "Give Peace a Chance" was supposed to be about general happenings of the time and not be specific to any event or person (I guess she hasn't heard it in a while) so she had written some new lyrics.
- Give Peace a Chance - Everybody.....almost.
Everybody came out for the encore.......except Clapton. My bet is he said, "You can keep the guitar - I'm outa here!" Different people took different verses. A disaster. One final cluster f**k to finish off the night.
I will give Yoko credit for three things:
1. At 77 years old, she's as limber and agile as a 30 year old.
2. She somehow got Eric Clapton, Jim Keltner and Klaus Voorman to play with her 35-40 years after they did her albums / concerts as a favor to John. I bet none of them will bet against the Saints again.*
3. She actually has real fans. I expected the place to be full of Lennon / Beatle / Clapton fans. While there were clearly some there, most of the crowd seemed to be the New York artsy-fartsy crowd. People really seemed to enjoy the show.
Me? I went to see Eric, Jim and especially Klaus, whom I had never seen before. Klaus is one of my major bass influences - plus he drew/painted the Revolver, Anthology and Ringo album covers. Jim is one of my favorite drummers (it was my fourth time seeing him). Clapton is Clapton. Seen him many times and will see him again Friday, this time with Jeff Beck. I wonder if that show will be any better than this one....Hmm.......
Wish you were there? The show was filmed. Start saving now.
Review by Daniel C.
Just want to add my impressions to the two reviews I saw already on the site. I was interested initially in seeing the show because of Voormann, Clapton, and Keltner. Seemed like too good an opportunity to pass up. I'd heard that the first half of the show was going to be the 'new' POB and the second half, the 'old' POB (or a version of it).
Settled into my seat and watched the introduction film. Mildly interesting. I 'appreciate' Yoko and her place in the art world, but her records have never really been my thing. Then the show started and, indeed, the whole first half was her with the new version of the POB. And, I have to say, it was mostly great. Not all of it, but 3/4's of the time the playing was fantastic (the drumming was mind-blowingly good) and Yoko was a compelling front person. Again, I have to say that I was prepared to not enjoy this at all and was completely won over. The arrangements and songs showed a variety of dynamics and really held me - and, I'd say - most of the audience. It was interesting that the vocals were not very loud, but it suited the music. Her voice really became another instrument.
The second half varied greatly in quality, but what was interesting is how much the audience responded directly in proportion to a given performers level of fame both before and after their performance. So Paul Simon, who played a couple of songs with his son Harper, was greated with huge applause (as he well should be), but after their train wreck of a performance, got what was almost a standing ovation. Anyway, the Scissor Sisters (again, I thought they'd mediocre) were really really good, made the song their own. B+. Bette Midler? Great - easily the best singer of the guest stars - and a solid A, maybe A+ if we're grading on a curve. Gene Ween, singing 'Oh Yoko' with Geen Ween - C. It was fun because the song is fun, but that's about it. Thurston and Kim from Sonic Youth played great, accomanying Yoko on a piece. I finally 'got' what they do. A- or A. But on the dinosaurs...
Keltner sucked. I was so excited to hear him play in person, but he just bashed away. None of the sublety or musicality I've come to expect from his brilliant recorded work. So disappointing. Voormann? Sounded good, I guess. The bass tone lacked definition (which was probably appropriate, given the material), so it was hard to tell what was going on there. He did look enthusiastic, though, and that was nice. Sean Lennon was fine in this role. I don't feel strongly either way about his musicianship - I mean he's clearly in at the deep end with these folks - but he did fine. Yoko - on these songs - was spot on. And Clapton? To me, disappointing. I didn't want to hear him recreate stuff from records, but I had hoped that he'd tap into an earlier style of his playing a bit. I'm not a huge fan of his, but do really appreciate what he's capable of and felt that - for the most part - he just slid his bluesy thing into these tunes without much thought to context. Will someone please hand him an SG? Maybe that would inspire something late 60's-ish out of him. Now, to be fair, there was little (or no) rehearsal, but still - it all felt pretty lame to me after the really musical performances of the first set.
Of the three songs they did do, I was most surprised by 'Yer Blues' - Sean's vocal (which doesn't come across well in the Youtube clip I've seen) sounded quite good in the house. It was all played very straight and, aside from Keltner's unforgivable missed drum cue near the end (and Yoko's bum mic), was pretty fun. But - really - not any better than any Beatles tribute band playing this on any given weekend. There was certainly no 'magic' coming from the old dudes. The Samantha tune was long and boring. Don't Worry Kyoko actually worked the best, IMO. Clapton and Sean got locked in a nice gritty repeated guitar figure and Keltner's bashing seemed more appropriate. The high point of their short set, I thought.