Something About George

A musical journey through the solo career of George Harrison – Floral Pavilion, New Brighton
Richard Leigh
February 6, 2024

You don’t have to be a Beatles fan to appreciate the depth and scope of George Harrison’s career and this production ‘Something About George’ proved to be a highly entertaining tour through his post-Beatles career.

Sat in the auditorium with a drum kit, keyboards and assorted guitars in the pre-set lights on stage, I wondered if this was simply going to be a George Harrison tribute act. But no – we were in for an informative, amusing and heartfelt eulogy to someone whom it was obvious the performers cared about as a man as well as a musician: they wanted to tell us his story – and we were happy to listen.

Lead by Daniel Taylor who played guitar and narrated, the show opened with four songs from Harrison’s seminal ‘All Things Must Pass’ album, each interspersed with stories from his career at the time. ‘All Things Must Pass’ was released right after the breakup of the Beatles in 1970 and we were reminded part of the reason for that breakup in the fact that, as a triple album, it contained many songs written during the Beatles years, but which George couldn’t get onto a Beatles album, competing as he was with two giants of the music scene.

George’s friendship with sitar player Ravi Shankar and his burgeoning interest in India and Indian mysticism prompted him, in 1971, to organise the Concert For Bangladesh. We heard how he had been deeply affected by news of the destructive civil war raging across the region and with two concerts and an associated record, he set the blueprint for celebrity charity concerts, such as Live Aid, ever since. The group served up the title song ‘Bangla Desh’ ably illustrating this era.

The first half also included perhaps George’s most famous solo hit ‘My Sweet Lord’ and Taylor explained, during his associated narration, how Harrison has lost a court case for plagiarism brought by the Chiffon’s management because the melody was so similar to their ‘He’s So Fine’.

The band included Callum MacMillan on drums, James Breckon on keyboards, Tom Kinton on bass and Joe Smithson on lead guitar, who MC’d the evening. Smithson’s proficiency came to the fore during the group’s rendition of arguably one of Harrison’s best songs - the pitch perfect ‘Something’. Although very definitely a Beatles song, justification for including it wasn’t hard. It illustrated the fact that Harrison’s first wife, Patti Boyd, had been one of the most famous pop muses of the era, inspiring that song as well as Clapton’s ‘Layla’ and ‘Wonderful Tonight’. Although rivals for Patti’s attention, Harrison and Clapton remained very close friends, even after she eventually left George for Eric: “I’d sooner she was with Eric that some dropout” he decided.

The second half opened with another unashamed dip into the Beatles catalogue with ‘Taxman’ before moving on to more of Harrison's melodious compositions including ‘Here Comes The Moon’ and ‘Dark Sweet Lady’ about his second wife Olivia.

‘All Those Years Ago’, George’s tribute to John Lennon written after the latter had been shot, was played against a backdrop of Beatle images projected behind the band and served as a poignant reminder - as if we needed it - of how he’d earned his spurs.

Two songs from Harrison’s almost accidentally put together supergroup The Travelling Wilburys followed, accompanied by the wonderfully laid back story of how they came to be: George mentioned to Jeff Lynne he quite fancied working together if they were both in town. Geoff mentioned to Roy Orbison in passing that he was meeting up with George. Then went to pick up his guitar at Tom Petty’s house who decided he was doing nothing that day. They phoned up Bob Dylan who was the only person they know who’s recoding studio would be open on a Sunday and so all met up for a jam. Even the title of their first hit ‘Handle With Care’ (which on stage group handled excellently) was taken from a box in the corner of Bob Dylan’s studio.

With the concert nearly over, we came to hear about the tragic events leading up to George’s death and another anecdote that illustrated perfectly his character. Seriously ill in his bed and recovering from the knife attack he had suffered at his home at Friar Park, he was visited by Ringo. Ringo explained they he had to go and see his daughter next who was also very ill and he wasn’t sure how he’d cope. “Do you want me to come with you?” asked George.

To end the section on Harrison’s death, Taylor gave us a beautiful a cappella version of ‘Here Comes The Sun’ before the group rounded off the evening with a warmly received version of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ before a standing ovation from the appreciative audience.

This being the opening night of a 31-venue tour, the cast could perhaps be forgiven if there were a couple of hiatuses at times: one or two lyrics forgotten and the odd anecdote that didn’t quite flow. I’m sure those hiccups will be ironed out over the next few nights and audiences at those remaining 30 venues have a treat in store for them for certain.

I must admit, I’d assumed the title ‘Something About George’ was a play on words referring to one of Harrison’s most famous songs. But in fact the ‘Something About …’ team have already scored a hit with a similarly conceived ‘Something About Simon’ featuring the works of Paul Simon. I couldn’t help thinking the idea has legs that could easily encapsulate ‘Something About Bowie’ or ‘… Elvis’ or a host of other artists with a story to tell. But for now, ‘Something About George’ is a thoroughlyentertaining evening.

‘Something About George’ is touring at venues around the UK & Ireland including:

Playhouse, Alnwick (Sat 10 Feb), Queens Hall Arts Centre, Hexham (Sun 11 Feb), City Varieties Music Hall, Leeds (Weds 14 Feb), The Plaza, Stockport (Fri 1 Mar), Empire Theatre, Blackburn (Sat 2 Mar), Grand Theatre, Blackpool (Sun 3 Mar), Theatre Royal, Wakefield (Sat 9 Mar), Truck Theatre, Hull (Weds 13 Mar), Theatre Royal, St. Helens (Thurs 14 Mar), Octagon Theatre, Bolton (Sun 17 Mar).

For tickets and info CLICK HERE

Images: David Munn Photography