Review and Photos by Fred Kuhlman
Promoter: Danny Zelisko Presents
Venue: Celebrity Theatre
Date: Friday December 6th, 2019
Tour: Beatles’ White Album 50th Anniversary Tour
I remember hearing the Beatles when they played on the Ed Sullivan Show back in the 60s. I remember visiting my cousin Bonnie, Nancy & John in New Jersey and listening to The Beatles on the radio. I remember the constant playing of the early Beatles’ songs on CKLW. I thought it was amazing when they came out with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album. Then came the White Album in 1968 and I really had mixed feelings about it. I loved some of the songs on the album, but others disturbed me. And then when Charles Manson hijacked the album’s song, “Helter Skelter” meaning for his own blizzard ideology, I felt it tarnished the album.
Well it has been 50 years (actually 51) since the White Album was released. I can now look back and see the album in a new light. I still think that some of the songs were masterpieces but others are still strange. Probably the most memorable songs on the album are, “Birthday”, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”, “Bluebird”, ”Back In The U.S.S.R” and unfortunately “Helter Skelter”. We are no longer able to hear the Beatles perform the music live, but a phenomenal group of musicians have come forward to attempt to recreate the album live, with their own personal touched. The lineup features Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, Christopher Cross, Todd Rundgren, Jason Scheff of Chicago and Joey Molland from Badfinger. At first you look at this group and have a hard time of seeing how their different music talents and mixture of styles can come together to pull this off. But they did a fabulous job. The show started with the lights going down and “Number 9” coming out over the sound system. Then all of the members came out to the front of the stage and performed “Back In The U.S.S.R.”. Mickey sang, Todd, Joey and Christopher played guitar and Jason played bass. They were backed by a keyboardist, guitarist, bass player and drummer. After the first song, the main members took turns performing different songs from the album. They joked that they had to pay the band leader (one of the backing band members) to get to perform certain songs. I have indicated which song each member was the lead singer for in the setlist below.
The show was broken up into 2 sets. The first set covered 8 songs from the album. The rest of the set allowed each of the artists to perform 2 of their hit songs. The first standing ovation came when Jason Scheff was joined by Todd Rundgren on guitar played Chicago’s mega hit, “25 or 6 to 4”. It was the first of many standing ovations at tonight’s performance. Jason played bass for a number of the other singers during the show. Later Todd performed “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. His guitar playing was stellar and he was perfect for that song.
After a short intermission, Christopher Cross came out and played acoustic guitar for “Blackbird” and “I Will (Love You Forever)”. As in the first set, the different artists came out to perform the certain songs. There were 3 events that occurred during the second set that stood out. First was when Micky Dolenz came out to sing “Rocky Racoon”. He joked that it was a song that should be sung around a camp fire. So, one of the stage hands brought out a small fan with crape paper that looked like fake fire. Everyone got a big laugh. The next was during “Sexy Sadie”, when Todd Rundgren came out and sang and through flowers into the audience. The last funny incident was when Todd came out to sing “Buffalo Bill”. He was dressed in a safari outfit and carried a super soaker gun that he sprayed the stage and audience with as he roamed the stage side to side. Then during “Helter Skelter”, Todd sang and ran around the stage like a mad man. They ended the second set with everyone coming back and singing “Birthday”. After a short break they all came back to sing an encore of “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”.
If you have not seen this concert, then I highly recommend it. It was probably one of my favorite shows of the year. I am a little biased in that I grow up listening to the Beatles and each of the amazing artists that were performing here tonight. Each of the artists was terrific and their performances were “wicked good”.
The show was held at the Celebrity Theatre in Phoenix, Arizona, It is one of 2 venues in the US with a rotating round stage. But for tonight’s show, then fixed the stage and only sold seats for about ¾ of the venue. If you have not been to the Celebrity Theatre, it is a real treat and awesome venue to see and hear a concert. I love the new sound system and they know how to light up the performers on stage. Also, the seats are arranged so that no one is farther from the stage then 100 ft.
Unless otherwise indicated, all of the songs were from the Beatles’ White Album. I have indicated which performer was the main singer for each song. The only songs missed from the White Album were “Cry Baby Cry”, “Yer Blues” and “Good Night”.
Photos © Fred Kuhlman 2019, All Rights Reserved
White Album Tour Setlist: (Main Singer / Personal covers)
Back in the U.S.S.R. (Everyone)
Dear Prudence (Jason Scheff)
Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey (Todd Rundgren)
Martha My Dear (Christopher Cross)
Savoy Truffle (Joey Molland)
I’m a Believer (Micky Dolenz / The Monkees’ song / Neil Diamond writer)
Pleasant Valley Sunday (Micky Dolenz / The Monkee’s song / Carole King writer)
Baby Blue (Joey Molland & Todd Rundgren / Badfinger cover)
No Matter What (Joey Molland / Badfinger cover)
Hard to Say I’m Sorry (Jason Scheff / Chicago cover)
25 or 6 to 4 (Jason Scheff & Todd Rundgren / Chicago cover)
I Saw The Light (Todd Rundgren / Todd Rundgren cover)
Hello It’s Me (Todd Rundgren / Todd Rundgren cover)
Sailing (Christopher Cross / Christopher Cross cover)
Ride Like the Wind (Christopher Cross / Christopher Cross cover)
Honey Pie (Christopher Cross)
Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? (Micky Dolenz)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (Todd Rundgren)
Blackbird (Christopher Cross)
I Will (Christopher Cross)
Julia (Jason Scheff and Christopher Cross)
Mother Nature’s Son (Christopher Cross)
Rocky Raccoon (Micky Dolenz)
Revolution 1 (Joey Molland)
Sexy Sadie (Todd Rundgren)
I’m So Tired (Micky Dolenz)
Happiness Is a Warm Gun (Micky Dolenz)
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill (Todd Rundgren)
Piggies (Jason Scheff)
Glass Onion (Jason Scheff)
Helter Skelter (Todd Rundgren)
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (Everyone)