Crowd delights in outstanding evening
Thirty-two years after John Lennon inconspicuously strolled around the Botanical Gardens as an Island visitor, his music and songs reverberated through those same manicured grounds delighting thousands of music fans.
US chart-topper Maxi Priest and Bermudas international recording artist Heather Nova made outstanding contributions to a night that celebrated Mr Lennons musical legacy and his connection to the Island.
They were not alone. The 26 other performers, some appearing as ensembles, ensured the Bermuda Fantasy John Lennon tribute concert was a musical milestone.
A rich tapestry of Bermudian talent onstage and behind the scenes pulled off a remarkable event showcasing home-grown professionalism and diversity. If staging concerts in Bermuda was an arcade game, then event producers Tony Brannon and Michael Freisenbruch would today be entering their initials next to the new high score.
With a sprinkling of overseas performers helping things along, a mesmerising night of entertainment unfolded at the Botanical Gardens showground on Friday.
Each artist contributed their own interpretation of songs written by Mr Lennon as a solo artist or jointly with fellow Beatle Paul McCartney.
Standout moments included the remarkable harmonies of the Von Friths brother and sister Jonathan and Christina Frith, cousin Heather Nova and Christinas daughter Julia.
An impressive quarter moon became a heavenly spotlight, gliding clear of a small cloud as Jonathan, accompanied by Christina, sang Mr Lennons heartfelt ode to son Sean, Beautiful Boy. Christina took centre-stage with a touching version of Julia, beautifully switching vocal pitch as she presented the ballad to Mr Lennons mother. Fittingly on stage augmenting the harmonies was Christinas daughter Julia.
Heather Nova made Norwegian Wood sound more ethereal than the Beatles 1965 original before she, together with her cousins, combined harmonies on the a cappella Beatles track Because and rounded off with In My Life.
The Tzuke family were equally impressive, with the elegantly dressed sisters Bailey and Tallula giving an angelic quality to Mr Lennons Oh My Love.
Bailey provided backing harmonies as her mother, UK hit maker Judie, gracefully sang Love. All three Tzukes combined on If I Fell before Judies Bermudian husband Paul Muggleton, a former member of The Savages, dished up Mr Lennons uncompromising Gimme Some Truth. He was aided by son Jamie and Bermudas Lennon sculpture maker Graham Foster.
Only a lack of column inches prevents each of the nights performers being mentioned in this review, for they all deserve recognition.
Youngsters from the Bermuda School of Music had earlier set the scene with an instrumental medley of Lennon/Beatles songs before opening singer Rachel Brown performed a confident laid-back rendition of Watching the Wheels. McCartney K then delivered Grow OId With Me, a song penned by Mr Lennon during his two-month stay in Bermuda in the summer of 1980.
Joy T Barnum, one of the Islands most striking and confident singers, shone with a passionate version of Mind Games, and many in the audience were on their feet applauding K Gabrielle, granddaughter of Bermuda National Hero Dame Lois Browne-Evans, after she sang one of Mr Lennons final songs Im Losing You.
As the evening progressed the tempo quickened with veteran Roy Young, who played with the Beatles during their pre-Beatlemania days, thumping out rock n roll classics that sparked spontaneous pockets of dancing around the showground.
The Bermuda Folk Club and Chewstick appeared as ensembles, respectively performing Youve Got To Hide Your Love Away and Power To The People.
Another highlight came from Uzimon, who strutted on stage in a replica New York City T-shirt once famously worn by Mr Lennon and gave the song New York City a delightful reggae beat. Reflecting Mr Lennons often tongue-in-cheek humour, Uzimon declared he was more famous than the former Beatle as he had just been voted the sixth best reggae artist on someones blog.
Barbados star Biggie Irie kept the reggae going with his beautifully observed rendition of Woman, a worldwide hit written in Bermuda by Mr Lennon.
With midnight fast approaching, Grammy-nominated Maxi Priest burst onto the stage and immediately departed from the Lennon-centric theme with a few of his own hits, including his breakthrough cover of Cat Stevens Wild World. Many in the audience were dancing and Priest pointed out that Mr Lennon loved reggae, something the late star had acknowledged in interviews in 1980. Mr Priest covered the Beatles All My Loving, a signature track on the Lennon Bermuda tribute double CD.
There was just enough time for MC Bruce Barritt to introduce Robert (Sai) Emery, who sang Imagine before the Love Singers, featuring Tourism Minister Wayne Furbert, performed All You Need is Love.
All the evenings artists then assembled on stage and, augmented by the voices of many in the 2,000-strong audience, sang Give Peace A Chance to end a remarkable night.
It is believed to have been the first music concert held in the Botanical Gardens and, judging by the events success in showcasing Bermuda-staged entertainment, it is to be hoped more will follow.
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