Best line of the night from last night's John Lennon tribute at First Ave, from the ever-quotable ringleader Curtiss A: "I guess you can tell I spent my break wisely."
The quip followed an especially wacky, hazy, fully baked -- wink, wink -- tear through some of Lennon's best-known solo tracks, including a wild version of "Give Peace a Chance" that was played to the tune of David Bowie's "Fame" (it works!), followed by ""Power to the People," "Cold Turkey" and "Instant Karma," all blended together into one psychedelic cloud.
Give Curt and his band of 15-plus Lennonizers props for mixing things up and keeping it fresh after 30 years of doing the tribute shows. The rest of the concert's second half was a mish-mash of Beatles material starting with "Please Please Me" and other early standards such as "Anytime at All" (which Curt once again declared his favorite) and "A Hard Day's Night." They blended in some mid- and latter-era tracks in the middle, including a howling and galloping take on "Dig a Pony" with the Melismatics' Ryan Smith on "Lead Vocals" and a fun melding of "Day Tripper" with "Nowhere Man." The encore was especially a hoot, starting with "She Loves You" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" and including "The Ballad of John and Yoko" and climaxing with John's two hard-rocking Larry Williams cuts, "Slow Down" and "Bad Boy."
Lucy Michelle & the Velvet Lapelles, Romantica and Nicholas "The Feelin'" Mrozinski all played during the break, each only delivering the one song off the new charity CD "Minnesota Beatles Project, Vol. 1" (click here for info). The montage was a bit disjointed and rushed, and much of the crowd wasn't paying attention anyway. Which was too bad since the performances were pretty terrific, especially Romantica's faithful but passionate spin on "Something."
My suggestion for next year -- or any random year -- might be for First Ave to book singer/songwriters or smaller bands to play mini-Beatles sets in the Entry before, during and after Curt's thing, like was done at the Replacements tribute two weeks ago. I gotta admit, though, I did enjoy going into the Entry last night and catching a few songs each by the touring thrash-metal bands Priestess and especially Early Man. Talk about a nice contrast.