If you're Beatle's fan there is a new DVD due soon that should help tide you over until The Beatles edition the Rock Band video game is released in September. It ain't the Beatles, but a concert performance of the Plastic Ono Band's historic 1969 Toronto concert. The DVD offers a close-up look at John Lennon during a pivotal time in his career.
Filmed on Sept. 13, 1969, the eve of the release of Abbey Road (The last Beatles album to be recorded) The Beatles were already at each other throats. As Lennon later put it in an interview with Rolling Stone's publisher, Jann Wenner, "We were tired of being sidemen for Paul." So this performance was a bit of a release of pent up frustrations for Lennon and it shows. It had been three years since Lennon had performed onstage with The Beatles. This performance is raw and edgy, a seeming counter point to the overly produced and polished music that, in John's view, that the Beatles had been churning out.
Seemingly on a whim, John and wife Yoko Ono hopped on a plane with guitarist Eric Clapton, bassist Klaus Voormann and drummer Alan White (Later the drummer for Yes) to travel to the Toronto Rock 'N' Roll Revival festival showcasing. Many of Lennon's early musical heroes were on the bill, among them Bo Diddley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry and Little Richard. The film shows Lennon grinding out nasty chords and Clapton tossing out ripping solos on "Blue Suede Shoes" and "Dizzy Miss Lizzy". It was the kind of material that fueled and inspired the early Beatles. After the early rock numbers at the beginning of the Plastic Ono Band's set Lennon delves into his own catalog with a rave-up of the Beatles "Yer Blues," and then the group feels its way through his then-new "Cold Turkey" and "Give Peace a Chance" before diving into Yoko Ono's improvised numbers filled with feedback and slashing chords and shrieks from Yoko... fortunately you can hit the skip button on these so you're not unduly scarred for the rest of your life. The entire performance is captured by Academy Award-nominated director D.A. Pennebaker (The War Room, Don't Look Back, Monterey Pop), this concert film serves as a great historical document, but probably isn't something for anyone but a devout Beatle or John Lennon fan. If you count yourself in the latter category, then by all means add it to your collection. You'll enjoy it.