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Heartfelt tribute lets McCartney's genius be

December 06, 2011|By Adam Pringle, Special to the Independent
  • Tony Kishman, with a little help from his friends, faithfully performed a variety of Beatles and McCartney solo classics, including “Hello Goodbye,” “Jet” and “Hey Jude” at the Pacific Symphony pops concert at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa last week.
Tony Kishman, with a little help from his friends, faithfully… (Pacific Symphony )

As much as I adore The Beatles, the idea of going to a Paul McCartney tribute concert, even one with a symphony, didn't exactly fill me with excitement.

After all, the gems of the John Lennon/McCartney catalog have been covered countless times and interpreted in many different ways — I'm sure you can even find an album of Beatles songs played on the didgeridoo, if you look hard enough — and even with songs as wonderful and timeless as these, the idea of hearing them covered yet again can seem tiresome.

Fortunately, "(A Tribute to) Paul McCartney & the American Hero," the opener of the Pacific Symphony's 2011-12 pops season, did justice to the masterful songcraft of McCartney's work by simply being faithful to the originals — or "letting them be," to paraphrase the man of honor. It also certainly helped that Beatles tribute band veteran Tony Kishman, a visual and vocal dead ringer for Macca, was the frontman who helped bring these classics to life.

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Inspired by McCartney's organization of The Concert for New York City in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, this three-night series of concerts over Veterans Day weekend touted that it would celebrate "freedom, heroes and the enduring power of song."

It fulfilled its patriotic duty on those counts, right from the moment four Marine Color Guard members caught me off-guard by shouting from behind, "Hut, one, two, three, four!" and marching down the aisle to the stage of the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall in Costa Mesa.

The opening concert of the series on Nov. 10 began with the Pacific Symphony performing a number of World War II-era standards sung by veteran jazz vocalist Sue Raney, along with quintessentially American pieces such as "Stars and Stripes Forever."

Raney seemed very much at home with the symphonic backdrop ably led by principal pops conductor Richard Kaufman. Working with a set list that alternated between ballads such as "I'll Walk Alone" and upbeat tunes such as "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else But Me)," Raney handled the swing 'n strings with professional aplomb, and her voice remained as supple as ever.

After intermission, the Pacific Symphony perfectly set up Kishman's entrance with the surging and swirling strings that memorably punctuate "A Day in the Life," the concluding track on "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

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