Thursday, 18 October 2012

Lennon In Review: 'Live Peace in Toronto' (1969)

I consider this album to be John Lennon's debut release, his first studio album came a year later in 1970 but this live album, recorded at Varsity Stadium in Toronto, Canada. Lennon and the Plastic Ono Band were on the bill with 1950's stars such as Bo Diddley, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chuck Berry and up and coming groups of the day; Alice Cooper and The Doors. The festival was billed as the "Toronto Rock and Roll Revival" and attracted around 20,000 when it was announced.

Winging It: Klaus, John & Eric rehearsing on the plane.

The band, which consisted of John on guitar and vocals, Yoko doing her thing, Alan White on drums, Klaus Voorman on bass and Eric Clapton on lead guitar, had no prior rehearsal and they had to rehearse on the plane on the way to Canada which barely happened. By the time the band took the stage they'd agreed on a set list; 'Blue Suede Shoes', 'Money (That's What I Want)', Dizzy Miss Lizzy', 'Yer Blues', 'Cold Turkey', 'Give Peace a Chance', 'Don't Worry Kyoko' and 'John John (Let's Hope for Peace)'. The last two tracks were decided on stage and were largely improvised and were "sang" by Yoko Ono.

Sweet Little Rock & Roller: Lennon performs at the Toronto festival.

When the album was released, Yoko's performances were put on side two and thus were rarely or never played by people who bought the album. It's fair to say these performances by Yoko were not welcome at a rock and roll festival and on the accompanying film of the concert, Alan, Eric, Klaus and even John begin to leave Yoko to her screaming which lasted for about 12 minutes. The crowd also got fed up and began to leave. On a recent DVD viewing, my father, who'd had a few bevvies and could have probably lasted through a Cliff Richard song, soon got fed up of Yoko doing her thing all over him. "SHUT YOUR F***ING HEAD YA TONE DEAF BITCH!" he screamed at the telly, his dog-ends going everywhere. I have to say, after witnessing John, Eric, Klaus and Alan lead us through some very enjoyable music, I was inclined to agree.


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