The Concert for George McGovern was not quite the fan¬tastic splendor that everyone expected, but musically it was one of the better concerts of the year. Two of the guest ushers did not show (Peggy Lipton and Goldie Hawn), and the other three, Jack Nicholson, Warren Beatty, and Julie Christie (as beautiful as ever - pardon my male chauvinism), did not make their appearance until ten minutes before the concert was to begin. Their tardiness was justified though: Nicholson and Beatty had been up since 7 A.M. doing last minute organizing, plus all three attended receptions for publicity. As usual, rumors were floating around before the concert: Bob Dylan was to make a surprise appearance; Robert Vaughn and David McCallum, without their guns and silencers, were sighted backstage by numerous people.
The concert began with Paul Simon doing an excellent but too short medley of old and new, from "Sounds of Silence" and "Mrs. Robinson" to "Mother and Child Reunion." While the performance was good, the harmony of Art Garfunkle was distinctly missing in the older material.
Then came Joni Mitchell, the best performer of the evening, doing a couple of songs by herself, then joined by James Taylor for a couple more, and finishing off by herself with some oldies but goodies such as "Woodstock."
After a brief intermission, James Taylor and his back-up group, consisting of a drummer, bass guitar, piano, and an overeager lead guitarist, gave a quite respectable set. It was a shock to the audience that Taylor is not the teeny-bopper performer as he is made out to be. He is a serious and mature folk singer who does not like the fifteen-year-old girls crowding around the stage. The only problem with him was that there was a lack of new material, and the old material sounded much the same, especially harmonically. But the performance itself was good.
The concert ended with an appearance by the man for whom the concert was given, George McGovern, who received a five-minute standing ovation. He gave an optimistic speech about the future of the country, and ended with a quaint but well-placed (in context of the concert) statement: "If we all work hard enough, we will finally be able to build a bridge over the troubled water."
The semi-chaotic state of the concert was caused in part by the police and ushers who failed to realize a musical concert, not a hockey game, was in progress. The ushers barked out orders in top volume at the renegades who dared to smoke cigarettes and other things that people smoke at concerts. Then there were the teeny-boppers with their Brownie Instamatics with GE flash cubes running around and trying to storm the stage. All this created tension with the performers and broke their train of thought.
Here are some of the absurd comments made: "That's the guy who played in Carnal Knowledge - Mike Nicholson" or "I just took eight pictures of Warren Beatty, and I'm still shaking!" Despite these intrusions by the audience, the concert was very good, and the appearance by Senator McGovern completed a beautiful evening, making it one of the nicest political rallies around. And for you curious folk, the stars look the same in person as they look in pictures.
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