Disparate parts come together in Beatles salute

Review by Joan Anderman, Boston Globe (Switch to

Only a force as galvanizing as the Beatles could make a group of performers as unlikely as this one make any sense at all. Alan Parsons, Todd Rundgren, Heart's Ann Wilson, The Who bassist John Entwistle, and David Pack from Ambrosia pooled their divergent sensibilities and talents for a luminous - if occasionally unfocused - night of music.

After a scrappy intro version of ''Magical Mystery Tour,'' the first half of the concert was devoted to the performers' solo material. There was no real stylistic thread to connect Heart's searing ''Barracuda,'' Rundgren's pop gem ''Hello, It's Me,'' the Alan Parsons Project's arty ''Eye in the Sky,'' and the Who's impudent ''My Generation.'' A couple of sugary Ambrosia radio staples from the '70s - ''Biggest Part of Me'' and ''How Much I Feel'' - added even more strange colors to the palette. Indeed, the first few songs were a bit of a mess, entirely lacking in clarity.

But each brought respect and genuine affection to the shared stage, and in so doing lifted the disjointed set list to a higher musical ground. Rundgren and Wilson were the night's brightest lights: He's a true eccentric and a brilliant musician, still brimming with wild ideas and weird guitar work, and singing that's unhinged and soulful as ever. Wilson's full-throated style is no longer in vogue, but her powerhouse delivery on ''Crazy on You'' made one long for the days when girls belted.

The second half of the show was a Beatles bonanza, conceived by Parsons, who was an engineer at Abbey Road studios and helmed the board for ''Abbey Road'' and ''Let It Be'' and Paul McCartney's early solo work. He sent wishes for a speedy recovery to his friend George Harrison, who's being treated for cancer, and recalled booking studio time for an unknown client named Sam Brown, who turned out to be Paul McCartney coming in under an alias to record ''Maybe I'm Amazed.'' Wilson did that song justice - pulling out a gritty, soaring melody with the vocal equivalent of her bare hands.

''All these songs are body memory now,'' said Wilson, and it's true: They brought an instant, physical pleasure as memory and timeless craft collided in the opening riffs of ''Back in the U.S.S.R.,'' ''Lady Madonna,'' ''I'm Down,'' and ''Hey Jude.''

Entwistle's fluttering, flickering bass lines brought a decidedly Who vibe to the proceedings; he helped recreate the twisted carnival beauty of ''Fool on the Hill'' with a little help from Wilson's and Parsons's tandem flutes and Rundgren's interpretive stumbling.

Parsons took a rare and touching solo turn on ''Blackbird,'' after which the group rocketed back through time and proceeded to transform the crowd of 3,600 into a gargantuan dancing chorus for ''Day Tripper,'' ''Ticket to Ride, and ''I Want to Hold Your Hand.'' A final encore of ''Golden Slumbers'' closed the 21/2-hour show, although it felt like both audience and band would have been happy to sing all night long.

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7/11/2001 - FleetBoston Pavilion - Boston, MA

Other reviews for overall A Walk Down Abbey Road

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