Last night (Feb 9), there was a two-hour special on CBS to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. I went into the program kind of skeptical, because I knew there would be a lot of performers who, in fact, aren’t the Beatles, performing Beatles music. And sometimes performances like that don’t go very well. Plus, I knew Paul & Ringo would be in the audience watching, and I expected some bad performances, and I was actually embarrassed on Paul & Ringo’s behalf, in advance, because I knew they’d have to smile and clap and, in Ringo’s case, keep doing that double peace sign thing he does.
Well, I was wrong. While there were a few performances I’d like to forget I ever saw, most of them were pretty good, and a few of them were amazing. And I don’t use the word “amazing” like other people use it – to refer to tacos, or the color of paint, or naps. I only use it when I actually feel amazement, which was the case a few times last night.
So here’s the full performance list, and my unnecessary-but-here-it-is-anyway review of each one:
Maroon 5 – “All My Loving” & “Ticket to Ride” – Yes. Or as my friends in Uganda say, “Yes, please.”
John Mayer and Keith Urban – “Don’t Let Me Down” – Yes. Nice guitar solos from both of these guys, if you like nice guitar solos. And I do.
Ed Sheeran – “In My Life” – Holy cow, yes. For a 22-yr-old singer from England, to come out there in front of arguably the most important British singer/songwriter of all time, and nail that performance – pretty stinking impressive.
Alicia Keys and John Legend – “Let it Be” – So-so. It started out OK, but I think it ran out of gas about halfway through. I can take or leave John Legend anyway, but I think Alicia Keys could have done much better without him.
Imagine Dragons – “Revolution” – One of those performances you need to completely erase from your memory. For future reference, it’s never a good idea to put a country spin on a Beatles song. Or any song, ever.
Katy Perry – “Yesterday” – Yes. Although, she seemed pretty nervous, and there were moments when I felt like was watching a gymnast at the Olympics doing some difficult routine – it seemed like she was going to lose it at any moment. But she didn’t, and it was very good. I’d give her a 9.3.
Eurythmics – “Fool on the Hill” – Yes. Yes, please. The best performance of the night, in my opinion. From the non-Beatles, anyway. Oh my gosh. My daughter, the Lovely Miss Courtney, wasn’t familiar with the Eurythmics and she kept backing up the DVR again and again to watch it, again and again. She even did that thing girls do where they waive their hands rapidly in front of their eyes, which somehow mysteriously prevents crying. I’d call that a good performance. And Paul & Ringo thought so too, because they gave it a standing ovation (but I don’t think either one of them did the rapid waiving of fingers in front of their eyes).
Pharrell Williams and Brad Paisley – “Here Comes the Sun” – Boring.
Dave Grohl and Jeff Lynne – “Hey Bulldog” – OK. Different anyway. And kind of cool for Dave Grohl to bring his little girl into the moment.
Joe Walsh and Jeff Lynne – “Something” – Yes please. Very nice performance, plus it’s always fun to see Joe Walsh make cartoon faces when he plays.
Gary Clark Jr., Walsh and Grohl – “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” – Yes. I think I actually heard my own guitar, from inside its case, weeping.
Stevie Wonder – “We Can Work It Out” – Yes freaking please. Kind of risky to change the song so much while Sir Paul was actually watching, but Stevie pulled it off.
Ringo Starr – “Match Box,” “Boys,” “Yellow Submarine” – Match Box & Boys were OK. Not great, but it was Ringo and everyone in the crowd was screaming and happy, so he could have gotten up there and read a recipe and they would have still screamed. However, Yellow Submarine was pretty darn fun.
Paul McCartney – “Magical Mystery Tour,” “Birthday,” “Get Back,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” – The stuff everyone was waiting to hear. Paul has, in my opinion, the best band he’s had in 40-something years, and these guys were on their game. Abe Laboriel Jr. is a phenomenal drummer. I gotta say, the pressure was kind of on Paul, maybe more than Ringo, because Paul tours and performs more than Ringo. Still, with the pressure and all, Paul and his amazing band brought it. Oh yeah, I forgot… Yes please.
McCartney and Starr – “With a Little Help From My Friends” – Pretty good stuff, better than I expected. I was surprised.
McCartney, Starr and ensemble – “Hey Jude” – OK. I kind of felt like it was obligatory to end with this one, and get the crowd emotionally involved. I could have done without the Cirque du Soleil acrobats. And without Yoko dancing (actually, throughout the program). But hey, Paul, Ringo, and the late George have been kind of stuck with Yoko for the past five decades, so there’s not much you can do. And for 80 years old, it’s nice she can still move, albeit in kind of an eery way.
OK – so there’s my long, but hopefully not boring, review. You can see clips of some of these performances here, and you can probably google to find any individual performances in their entirety.