George Fest – A Night to Celebrate the Music of George Harrison
George Fest, not to be confused with Seinfeld’s George Costanza’s ‘Summer of George’ where he lounged in pajamas at home all day after being fired by the Yankees. Instead George Fest is a live album and concert DVD package that documents the George Fest -- a tribute concert to former Beatle George Harrison, held at the Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles on September 28th, 2014.
The two album set is loaded with performers from all musical (or even comedy) backgrounds including Brian Wilson and Al Jardine of the Beach Boys, Dhani Harrison, Norah Jones, Wayne Coyne and Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips, Conan O'Brien, Spoon's Britt Daniel, and Brandon Flowers of the Killers. Other performers included Ben Harper, "Weird Al" Yankovic, Ann Wilson of Heart, and Ian Astbury.
The list of performers combined with Harrison’s impressive catalogue is reason enough to give this celebratory album a listen. Often what happens in the live setting doesn’t transfer to the stereo. That is indeed the case in places on this record but overall the songs and musical guests more than make up for those spots.
There are a few very special moments here. One is how good and how much Dhani Harrison sounds like his Dad. Dhani tackles ‘Savoy Truffle’ and ‘Let It Down’ making you think that you’re hearing George himself. Other strong surprises came from the comedic corner, Conan O’Brien (‘Old Brown Shoe’) and Weird Al Yankovic (‘What Is Life’).
At times things don’t work on this collection and sadly the Brian Wilson spin on ‘My Sweet Lord’ is one of those moments. On paper this had me the most excited…hearing a Beach Boy sing The Beatles, how can it go wrong? But sadly Brian just never sounds comfortable and suffers from what sounds like a mixing issue with his vocals sounding distant (and almost disinterested).
The artists don’t stray very far from Harrison’s original versions on this compilation but that doesn’t matter. Hearing different voices deliver songs you’ve known for years and no doubt loved, gives them enough of a new spin, worthy of future listens.
This album reinforces how strong the George catalogue of songs is. The ensemble of singers that come together to close the album out with ‘Handle With Care’ and ‘All Things Must Pass’ cap off what sounds like a special evening celebrating The Quiet Beatle.
George Fest - Handle With Care
Essential tracks: Old Brown Shoe, I Me Mine, Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp, Savoy Truffle, What Is Life, Here Comes The Sun, All Things Must Pass
Track Listing: • Introduction • Old Brown Shoe - Conan O’Brien • I Me Mine - Britt Daniel (from Spoon) • Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let It Roll) - Jonathan Bates feat. Dhani Harrison • Something - Norah Jones • Got My Mind Set On You - Brandon Flowers (from The Killers) • If Not For You - Heartless Bastards • Be Here Now - Ian Astbury (from The Cult) • Wah-Wah - Nick Valensi (from The Strokes) • If I Needed Someone Jamestown Revival • Art of Dying - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club • Savoy Truffle - Dhani Harrison • For You Blue - Chase Cohl featuring Brian Bell (From Weezer) • Beware of Darkness - Ann Wilson (from Heart) • Let It Down - Dhani Harrison • Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth) - Ben Harper • Here Comes The Sun - Perry Farrell (from Jane's Addiction) • What Is Life - “Weird Al” Yankovic • Behind That Locked Door - Norah Jones • My Sweet Lord - Brian Wilson (from The Beach Boys) • Isn’t It A Pity - The Black Ryder • Any Road - Butch Walker • I’d Have You Anytime - Karen Elson • Taxman - Cold War Kids • It’s All Too Much - The Flaming Lips • Handle With Care - Brandon Flowers, Britt Daniel, Dhani Harrison, Jonathan Bates, Wayne Coyne, and “Weird Al” Yankovic • All Things Must Pass - Ann Wilson, Dhani Harrison, Karen Elson and Norah Jones