George Fest: A Night to Celebrate the Music of George Harrison

Various Artists

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George Fest: A Night to Celebrate the Music of George Harrison Review

by Stephen Thomas Erlewine

George Fest: A Night to Celebrate George Harrison happened at the Fonda Theater in Los Angeles on September 28, 2014 and the whole shindig appeared in a variety of incarnations -- CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, and downloads -- in February of 2016, a few days after what would've been the Beatle's 73rd birthday. His son Dhani directed the concert and, with the exception of Brian Wilson and Heart's Ann Wilson, he favored alt-rock stars of the 2000s: the Killers' Brandon Flowers, Nick Valensi from the Strokes, Spoon's Britt Daniel, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Cold War Kids, and the Flaming Lips form the backbone of this tribute. Around this core orbit some names that seem suitable (Norah Jones, Ben Harper, Perry Farrell), some that seem odd (Ian Astbury, Karen Elson), and some that seem like ringers (Conan O'Brien, Weird Al Yankovic), but this group is united by an affection for George Harrison, a love that runs so deep that none of the crew even make feints toward possible reinterpretations of the tunes. Everybody plays the songs they love in the way they learned them, so the highlights fall along the spectrum of sensitivity to enthusiasm. Norah Jones excels on both "Something" and "Behind That Locked Door," Karen Elson treats "I'd Have You Anytime" as a torch song, and Daniel sways handsomely to "I Me Mine," while Dhani throws himself into "Let It Down" and the two nominal comedians, Conan and Weird Al, tear it up on "Old Brown Shoe" and "What Is Life," respectively. That's enough to provide a hook for this lengthy concert but the lasting impression of George Fest is not about the performances here but rather the depth and range of Harrison's work, which perhaps is how it should be.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time Stream
1 Conan O'Brien 00:50 Amazon
2 Conan O'Brien 03:54 Amazon
3 Britt Daniel 02:28 Amazon
4 Jonathan Bates 04:23 Amazon
5 Norah Jones 03:13 Amazon
6 Brandon Flowers 04:29 Amazon
7 Heartless Bastards 03:34 Amazon
8 Ian Astbury 04:06 Amazon
9 Nick Valensi 05:26 Amazon
10 Jamestown Revival 02:20 Amazon
11 Black Rebel Motorcycle Club 04:14 Amazon
12 Dhani Harrison 02:58 Amazon
13 Chase Cohl 02:29 Amazon
14 Ann Wilson 03:46 Amazon
15 Dhani Harrison 06:05 Amazon
16 Ben Harper 03:37 Amazon
17 Perry Farrell 03:13 Amazon
18 Weird Al Yankovic 04:18 Amazon
19 Norah Jones 03:09 Amazon
20 Brian Wilson 05:20 Amazon
21 The Black Ryder 06:02 Amazon
22 Butch Walker 04:13 Amazon
23 Karen Elson 03:05 Amazon
24 Cold War Kids 03:32 Amazon
25 The Flaming Lips 08:21 Amazon
26 Jonathan Bates / Wayne Coyne / Britt Daniel / Brandon Flowers / Dhani Harrison / Weird Al Yankovic 03:25 Amazon
27 Karen Elson / Dhani Harrison / Norah Jones / Ann Wilson 03:57 Amazon
blue highlight denotes track pick