east anglian story telling festival
something about george
Daniel Taylor plays and narrates the story of George Harrison

Something About George – Review

Something About George – Spa Pavilion

For those of us of a certain age the name George Harrisson is synonymous with The Beatles.  Those ten years between 1960 and 1970 saw what was once a school skiffle band, morph into one of the music industry’s most influential and famous bands.  The breakup of the band is still today the subject of much speculation.  Whatever the reasons, it allowed four very creative people the opportunity to go their own way and do their own thing.

None more so than the ‘quiet Beatle’, George Harrison.  A prolific songwriter in his own right.  For whatever reason his songs rarely made it onto Beatles’ albums.  Not insignificantly his first solo release after the group split was the critically acclaimed and appropriately titled ‘All Things Must Pass’ – a triple album of some twenty-three songs.

The show ‘Something About George’ played the last date of it’s twenty-eight date UK tour at Felixstowe’s Spa Pavilion on Saturday night.  Part monologue, part concert, the show sees Daniel Taylor lead us through the life and songs of George Harrison.  Ably assisted by a band of four led by the show’s musical director on guitar, Joe Smithson.

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Non-Harrison fans may struggle to name a song penned by him other than ‘My Sweet Lord’ – go on, try it, without resorting to a search engine!  I regret to admit that I personally struggle to filter the Lennon & McCarthy songs of The Beatles from those of Mr. Harrison.  However it was a pleasant surprise to be reminded that some of my favourite Beatles’ tracks were in fact, written by George: ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’, ‘Here Comes The Sun’ and ‘Something’, all of which feature in this show.

The show starts with ‘Art of Dying’ from the aforementioned ‘All Things Must Pass’ – a lively rock number about reincarnation.   Although the show is a tribute to the writing of Harrison, it is less a ‘tribute show’ and more of a musical biography, which filled a number of gaps in my musical knowledge.  As well as playing guitar, Daniel Taylor also acts as narrator and is obviously passionate about his subject.

The dialogue touches on the Beatles’ break up, the drugs, the legal battles, religion and beliefs, but these are mere historical place markers.   It is the music that takes centre stage throughout.  Choosing just twenty songs to represent one man’s work could not have been easy, but the producers got it right and the band delivered excellent renditions.

The last number before the interval was ‘Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)’, Harrison’s second U.S. number one.   Ironically knocking Paul McCarthy’s ‘My Love’ off the top spot.  The recording is much praised for George’s slide guitar solos and the band on stage did it full justice.

The second half of the show kicked off with ‘Taxman’ and mirrored the later stages of George’s life, where self-doubt, drugs and broken relationships came to the fore.  Until that is, George and his mates got together to write some songs and formed what has been described as ‘perhaps the biggest supergroup of all time’ – albeit one that never played live.  The Travelling Wilburys featured Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jeff Lynn, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty.

Taylor and pianist James Brekon were left alone on stage playing ‘Here Comes The Sun’, a poignant and respectful way to mark George’s passing in 2001.   Until ‘Something About George’ my favourite version of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ has been Peter Frampton’s tribute from his album ‘Now’ – I now have a new favourite version – of all the numbers in the set this is the one the group nailed.

Something About George is a musical biography, well produced and executed by fine musicians.  It is an historical essay without any of the dry boring stuff but all of the relevant music.

As a complete aside – amongst the Harrison faithful at The Spa, it seems I may have been the only one in the auditorium who didn’t know that Harrison bankrolled ‘The Life of Brian’.   I was living in Ireland when ‘Brian’ was released, it was banned by the Catholic Church for being blasphemous.  On a trip to London, I bought the soundtrack on 12” vinyl and smuggled it back to Dublin – I never noticed the Harrison credit on the sleeve until today! I will now spend the afternoon watching the film to catch George Harrison’s brief cameo appearance.

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