Neil Young, Alicia Keys, Coldplay, Katy Perry's Hat Chip In to Honor Macca, Raise Millions
The Recording Academy's biggest MusiCares gala in the 22-year history of the event occurred Friday when Paul McCartney and a cast of stellar musicians entertained 2,800 guests with a dozen Beatles songs, three tunes from Wings and two numbers from his latest album, "Kisses on the Bottom."
In a night with more standouts than not, a stroke of genius meant McCartney would go first after members of the Cirque du Soleil troupe worked its "Love" magic at the Los Angeles Convention Center to the strains of "Get Back" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." McCartney himself provided a rousing entry to the festivities and an equally rousing closing, opening with "Magical Mystery Tour" and closing the night with the the end of "Abbey Road's" side two medley.
The rougher the acts treated McCartney's songs the better. Neil Young and Crazy Horse earned a standing ovation for giving "I Saw Her Standing There" a garage band treatment; Foo Fighters' were pitch-perfect with "Jet" and McCartney maneuvered through the stops and starts on the overlooked gem from "Band on the Run," "Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five."
Slower material proved trickier but Norah Jones was able to unleash some inner-Willie Nelson on "Oh! Darling"; Diana Krall's voice floated perfectly over John Clayton's walking bass line and James Taylor's spare guitar on "For No One"; and Duane Eddy made "And I Love Her" a clean walk through reverb nation.
Alicia Keys hit a few rough patches on "Blackbird" and Katy Perry's "Hey Jude" had an unfulfilling flatness, but attention for many was likely fixated on her oversized hat that hung on one side, looking like something from an Aretha Franklin collection. A small stage in the center of the arena proved beneficial for Alison Krauss and Union Station's acoustic "No More Lonely Nights," but it revealed the lack of glue on Coldplay's version of "We can Work It Out," which bore an odd resemblance to Elvis Presley's hit "Suspicious Minds."
Eddie Izzard was the evening's host, hilariously mangling McCartney's history with obtuse references to Muhammed Ali, Winstone Churchill, scuba diving and Charles De Gaulle. The evening raised $6.5 million for MusiCares, the Recording Academy's charitable organization that funds musicians at times of need.
A fair number of musicians were on hand, among them Elvis Costello, Smokey Robinson, Brian Wilson, Glen Campbell, David Crosby, Jeff Lynne, Corrine Bailey Rae, Bonnie Raitt, Jason Mraz and Herbie Hancock.
Full Set List:
"Magical Mystery Tour" - Paul McCartney
"Junior's Farm" - Paul McCartney
"Jet" - Foo Fighters
"Blackbird" - Alicia Keys
"No More Lonely Nights" - Alison Krauss & Union Station
"Here, There and Everywhere" - Tony Bennett
"And I Love Her" - Duane Eddy
"Oh! Darling" - Norah Jones
"Hey Jude" - Katy Perry
"I Saw Her Standing There" - Neil Young and Crazy Horse
"The Fool on the Hill" - Sergio Mendes
"We Can Work It Out" - Coldplay
"Yesterday" - James Taylor with Diana Krall and John Clayton
"For No One" - Diana Krall with James Taylor and John Clayton
"My Valentine" - Paul McCartney with Diana Krall, John Pizzarelli and others
"I'm Gonna Sit Right Down and Write Myself a Letter" - Paul McCartney with Diana Krall, John Pizzarelli and others
"Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Five" - Paul McCartney
"Golden Slumbers/Carry that Weight/The End" - Paul McCartney with Joe Walsh