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A Kinetic Performance By Yoko Ono and Friends on Night Two at the Orpheum

By Mike Palecki
Published: Monday, October 04, 2010, at 03:02PM
Orpheum Marquee Eric Richardson

Lady Gaga joined Yoko Ono onstage as Ono's final guest at her star-studded concert Saturday night at the Orpheum Theatre.

Gaga invigorated Ono and the two transformed an upbeat but lyrically melancholy song into a rousing dance anthem, delivering electrifying and hypnotizing vocal repetitions for “The Sun Is Down."

The show, the second of two nights at the Orpheum, opened with cinematic images of Ono’s early avant-garde gallery performances, her courtship and marriage to John Lennon, their anti-war activities and family photo montages of their infant son, Sean. That portion ended with Lennon’s blood-spattered eyeglasses on center screen, a reminder of his murder.

Throughout her music career, Yoko Ono has been widely misunderstood for her wailing, chortling and discordant tones. Early on, few listeners had the patience for the rhythmic, asymmetric sounds she composed into haunting and repetitious melodies.

Indeed, it was a younger generation of musicians that embraced that sound and turned it into wildly popular techno-dance music. Under Sean Lennon's musical direction, the new Plastic Ono Band complimented Ono’s vocals during the first half of the concert with young, cutting-edge Japanese musicians playing dynamic electric guitars, keyboards and drums.

During that set, Yoko revisited her catalogue of songs and performed a dazzling rendition of “Walking On Thin Ice.” With lots of recorded echoes, a strong bass guitar, and whirring siren-like instrumentals, Yoko sang the lyrics interspersed with gasping a cadence of, “Ah,ah,ah,ah”.

She concluded her solo vocals singing “High Noboru”, from her most recent CD. As Sean Lennon accompanied her on piano with classical-like progressions, Ono's message was one on the beauty found in life.

Highlights from the second portion of the concert included Joseph Gordon-Levitt singing Ono’s “Yes, I’m Your Angel,” accompanied by two beautiful angels in a burlesque parody.

Later on, Sean Lennon accompanied Carrie Fisher on piano as she sang, “What a Bastard the World Is.” The song was written by Yoko in response to the derision she suffered for coming into John Lennon’s life, and on Saturday it was performed by Fisher in a cabaret-like delivery.

Following that, the younger generation was represented by Perry Farrell (formerly of Jane’s Addiction), Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore of the punk band Sonic Youth and hip hop singer “RZA.” The format was loud electronic guitar feedback with Yoko wailing her signature repetitions.

By contrast, the duet performed and sung by Sean Lennon and Harper Simon, “Oh Yoko,” was stirring in its simplicity. Good vocal harmonies and spirited guitar strumming combined with guitar counter-harmonies made the song a jewel.

And then, dressed in a glittery, skin-tight jump suit with a studded headband holding her long blonde tresses in place, Gaga took the stage with Ono. Thrusting her arm skyward as she reaffirmed Ono's lyrics, “I did it on my own terms,” there was no hesitation or doubts as the two strutted, danced, and sang.

The concert ended with Gaga on piano and Sean Lennon on guitar, performing the blues. As they played, Ono climbed onto the grand piano and was soon joined by Gaga. Together they sang the ending lyrics, “Without you, it’s been so very hard.”

For an encore, the cast and audience sang, “Give Peace A Chance”.

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