Lennon: Through A Glass Onion is a unique experience at The Civic which epitomises a live concert combined with the most entertaining chronological tapestry of commentary. For children of the 60s likes us it gives you a nostalgic trip down memory lane or, for the punter born after the Lennon/Beatle years, a great historic snapshot of the iconic band and man.
Tribute bands are notoriously either spot on or crap/a waste of time. But luckily for us this show is NOT a tribute concert. It’s clearly an impression of the man which has been very cleverly shaped and put together using years of research and insight, to form a cohesive whole. The intelligently weaved dialogue which punctuates the songs gives us a tantalising glimpse of a man, his life and his music. It is a gift to those of us who grew up with those lyrics, the inventiveness and simple feistiness that defines John Lennon.
This show totally succeeds in honouring Lennon’s life, struggles, successes and analysis of those triumphs. Featuring a catalogue of Lennon’s greatest songs including Woman and Jealous Guy, as well as his collaborations with Paul McCartney including A Day in the Life, Strawberry Fields Forever, Revolution and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, this intimate production reveals the essence of the life and views of one of the most admired icons of all time.
John Waters’ (Offspring, All The Rivers Run, Godspell, Hair) performance is convincingly raw while being polished from the get-go. The songs are beautifully sung, and permeated with commentary of the era, it becomes a reminiscent and meaningful experience. Accompanied by the talented Bill Risby (Leo Sayer, The Supremes), this winning combination is a joy to behold. The astute storytelling is such a fabulous blast from the past and reminder of Lennon’s memorable life.
To many of the younger audience members ‘the impression’ may have been that the Beatles were the ultimate band, but what makes this version special are the warts and all observations, riddled with rivalries and disappointment, which makes this narrative more human and real. The poetry and clumsiness of the lyrics seems to mean more than when we first heard them as a young children listening to our parents’ records left lying around for us to discover ‘by accident’.
The slickly executed dramatic lighting and sound transitions (uncredited) further enhance the nostalgic look and overall ambience of that bygone era.
We truly enjoyed the show – we laughed at the self-depreciating wit of the dialogue and were surprised the way we all-of-a-sudden knew practically all of the lyrics to most of the songs and unashamedly belted them out, albeit occasionally out of tune, with careless abandon.
The audience response however was lacklustre. If Lennon had asked those in the expensive seats to ‘rattle their jewellery” he would have got nothing back.
But he probably wouldn’t have really cared as long as some of the people had a good time. This show has clearly been penned with care and curated with absolute skill – an absolute must see!
Presented by Auckland Live, Lennon: Through A Glass Onion plays at The Civic until 13 August Details see Auckland Live.
SEE ALSO: Theatreview.org.nz review by Nik Smythe