In 2002, a year after the death of George Harrison, a handful of his friends and longtime collaborators joined for a night celebrating the work and life of the former Beatle. Organized by Harrison’s widow, Olivia, and Eric Clapton, the documentary of the concert was originally released in 2003. Now, like any good piece of rock ‘n’ roll ephemera and to celebrate what would have been Harrison’s 75th birthday, David Leland’s documentary of that night has been remastered with some extra content and rereleased into theaters for a limited time.
My guess is that if you have any interest in seeing Concert for George, you’ve already seen it at some point during its original theatrical run or on DVD, meaning me reviewing it feels a little redundant. But no one said film criticism was all wine and roses. Regardless, in my personal Beatles ratings, I’ll always have a soft spot for Ringo, though George’s All Things Must Pass is the post-Beatles album I’ve listened to the most. Because of all this, Concert for George is pretty pleasing to me, dabbling in both of those things a good bit.
But, like these types of spectacles full of big names are wont to do, the concert itself can be hit or miss. I’m not even sure this bothers me on any real palpable level. The idea of a “concert for George” feels as much in theory and in practice as a celebration of a man’s life by his friends. That’s a difficult thing to truly fault, especially since the people onstage are the ones this whole thing is most important to.
Of course, that, too, is a bit of an issue, since a lot of the concert are these huge amalgamations of huge supergroups, a sort of Voltron-esque creation where there’ll be three drummers and five guitar players and Paul doing backing vocals on piano. There’s occasionally a bit of interest built up over the past decade and a half, like seeing the recently deceased Tom Petty cover “Tax Man.” Moments like this and the amount of talent that’s amassed on the stage from time to time makes Concert for George a neat little curio as a whole. But this does lead to a bit of unevenness, something that will simply rely on your preference for whoever’s onstage at that moment. Rated PG-13 for some risque humor. Now playing at Grail Moviehouse.