Rocker James McCartney played his U.S. debut last night at Fairfield’s new Sondheim Center. The two shows were part of the David Lynch Foundation’s fourth annual “Change Begins Within” weekend at Maharishi University.
McCartney, son of Beatle Paul, opened a three-ring musical circus that included Iowan Laura Dawn and folk legend Donovan.
“It’s very different having a famous father,” film director Lynch quipped when introducing McCartney. “My father was Elvis Presley.”
The audience, heavily weighted with aging ’60s boomers, went wild when the 32-year-old singer/guitarist walked on stage with Light, his band.
The four-piece slammed right into their first number as a video crew taped the show for the DLF Web site.
McCartney’s’ music was racy and frenetic, and the 400-plus seat Sondheim has well-designed acoustics that allowed the amps-on-stage rock band to deliver without overwhelming.
James looks a bit like Paul with a shaved head. Ah, those eyes. He is not left-handed, and he played a Fender Stratocaster given to him by Carl Perkins.
His voice was high and clear like his father’s, but at times, he sounded more like John Lennon when roughing things up.
“James has a way with melody and a set of pipes which are more than a match for his dad’s,” Lynch said.
His songwriting style has eerie nuances of the Beatles. “Spirit Guides,” featuring McCartney on piano, bore a haunting resemblance to “Lady Madonna.”
Every song charged ahead with strange melodies flavored with grunge, perhaps like Nirvana covering side two of Abbey Road, backed by the Ramones.
McCartney was stoic, mumbling only song titles between songs.
Laura Dawn and her New York blues-rock band Little Death came out blazing away and had the audience on its feet and dancing before their first song was 12 bars deep.
Dawn, a native of Pleasantville, is a stunning vocalist at the wheel of a powerhouse. She’s somewhat like Janice Joplin before the booze and cigarettes, or perhaps Martina McBride after a night of heavy pubcrawling.
Little Death and their sweetly trashed-out backup duo – the Death Threats – blasted the audience into happy submission, a road-and-bar band with a refined stage presence.
1960s legend Donovan closed the show with a set of hits, from “Catch the Wind” to “Sunshine Superman,” delivered in his trademark quavering voice. Donovan, along with the Beatles and the Beach Boys, brought Transcendental Meditation out of India into Western thought, which ultimately brought Fairfield to the forefront of the practice.
Little Death and the redressed and fully sequined Death Threats backed the folksinger for most of his set. The finale featured the entire cast, including McCartney, singing “Mellow Yellow” with Donovan and the crowd.
After the show, someone asked McCartney if he enjoyed playing in Iowa.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” the taciturn singer said. “Definitely.”
WOW! Saar nailed it–every part of it! And the second set was even livelier.
Donovan invited Fairfield guitarist Arthur Lee Land on stage for his last
two finales, that had Dawn’s husband, lead guitarist Daron Murphy, trading
solos with Lee Land, leading to a coherent close, which brought the audience
to its feet. What a night! Thank you David Lynch and Fairfield!!
By Bob Saar