The Concert for George was held at the Royal Albert Hall in London on 29 November 2002 as a memorial to George Harrison on the first anniversary of his death. The event was organised by Harrison’s widow, Olivia, and son, Dhani, and arranged under the musical direction of Eric Clapton and Jeff Lynne. The profits from the event went to the Material World Charitable Foundation, an organisation set up by Harrison.
The concert opened with a traditional Sanskrit invocation, the Sarvesham chant, followed by Indian music when Anoushka Shankar, daughter of Ravi Shankar, played “Your Eyes”. Next, Anoushka Shankar and Jeff Lynne performed “The Inner Light”, followed by a Ravi Shankar composition “Arpan” (Sanskrit for ‘to give’), specially written for the occasion.
Next there was a comedy interlude with four of the surviving members of the Monty Python troupe (Eric Idle, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam along with Python contributor Neil Innes) performing “Sit on My Face”. Then Michael Palin came out as an over-the-top announcer who eventually states that he only ever wanted to be a lumberjack. He was then joined by the Pythons, Innes, Carol Cleveland and actor Tom Hanks and The Fred Tomlinson Singers to perform “The Lumberjack Song”.
The remainder of the concert featured “George’s Band” and included the surviving members of the Beatles, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr, as well as musicians Eric Clapton, Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Billy Preston, Jools Holland, Albert Lee, Sam Brown, Gary Brooker, Joe Brown, Ray Cooper, Andy Fairweather-Low, Marc Mann, Dave Bronze, Klaus Voormann, Harrison’s son Dhani and several other musicians who appeared on Harrison’s recordings over the years.
Between them they played a selection of mostly Harrison’s songs, from both Beatles and post-Beatles eras, generally staying faithful to Harrison’s original arrangements. Performances included Clapton on “If I Needed Someone” and “Beware of Darkness”; Clapton and Preston on “Isn’t It a Pity”; McCartney on “For You Blue” and “All Things Must Pass”; Starr on “Photograph”; McCartney and Clapton on “Something” (McCartney opening with a solo ukulele accompaniment which then shifts into a full band version featuring Clapton); Preston on “My Sweet Lord”; McCartney, Clapton and Starr reuniting on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”; Petty on “I Need You” and “Taxman”; Lynne on “I Want to Tell You” and “Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)”; Petty and Lynne with Dhani Harrison and Jim Keltner on “Handle With Care” as a quasi-Traveling Wilburys; and the group performance of “Wah-Wah”.
Joe Brown closed the show with a rendition of “I’ll See You in My Dreams” on ukulele, one of Harrison’s favourite instruments.
The event was filmed and a motion picture version, directed by David Leland and photographed by Chris Menges was released on DVD on 17 November 2003. A compact disc version was also released on the same date although the Monty Python and Sam Brown tracks were not included on the CD. A Blu-ray version was released by Rhino Records on 22 March 2011. [Wikipedia]