NEW YORK — An all-star concert on meditation brought Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr together for their first performance together in seven years.
The reunion of McCartney and Starr, the surviving members of the Beatles, was the highlight of the “Change Begins Within” concert on Saturday night. The event was held at Radio City Music Hall to benefit the David Lynch Foundation, which aims to teach at-risk youth meditation techniques.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Billy Shears,” McCartney told the crowd, referring to the fictional character on the classic Beatles’ album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” as Starr emerged and immediately launched into his part in the Beatles’ classic “With a Little Help from My Friends.”
McCartney and Starr last performed together in 2002 at the Concert for George, which honoured former Beatles George Harrison at London’s Royal Albert Hall a year after Harrison’s death.
Saturday’s concert, which also featured Sheryl Crow, Eddie Vedder, Donovan and others, ran for about four hours. But McCartney had thousand of fans on their feet as he hit the stage near the show’s end. Opening with a spirited version of “Drive My Car,” he went through a generous selection of Beatles and Wings classics, from “Can’t Buy Me Love” and “Let It Be” to “Jet” and “Band on the Run.”
McCartney remembered John Lennon by playing “Here Today,” a song he wrote for the former Beatle, slain in 1980.
For the encore, McCartney was joined on stage by Donovan, Crow, Mike Love (of the Beach Boys), Vedder, Paul Horn, and of course, Starr on drums. After an epic version of “Cosmically Conscious,” he launched into the crowd-pleasing “I Saw Her Standing There.”
Other key moments of the night included an energetic cover of Queen’s “Under Pressure” by Vedder and Ben Harper, while Crow paid tribute to Harrison with a harmonious version of his “My Sweet Lord.”
Between the music, the night’s stars talked about the power of meditation to overcome problems. Howard Stern said he has meditated for 37 years, told the crowd that he credits meditation for saving his mother from depression.
He was followed by Starr’s three-song set. Starr introduced the Beatles song “Boys” by saying: “I’ve been playing this next song longer than Howard Stern has meditated.”
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