Review: sublime celebration of the genius of George Harrison

All Things Must Pass – The Duo, Felpham Village Hall. Also November 30, Lewes Con Club.
Alex Eberhard (contributed pic)Alex Eberhard (contributed pic)
Alex Eberhard (contributed pic)

For nearly ten years Alex Eberhard (guitar, vocals) has led the brilliant ten-piece All Things Must Pass Orchestra on a glorious celebration of the genius of George Harrison – a monumental feat of organisation given the sheer scale of the outfit.

How lovely now to discover the concept in distinctly sleeker format: All Things Must Pass – The Duo, Alex plus guitarist and fellow-Austrian Bernd Rest.

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A very early gig they did was actually in the presence of George Harrison’s son Dhani who was seen repeatedly to mutter the word beautiful and who complimented them both afterwards on the remarkable Swiss-clocklike interplay of their guitarwork. Remarkable words from one who would know. How fabulous then to discover the same for ourselves at a packed gig in Felpham village hall.

There is pressure in simply touching George Harrison’s songs. After all, this is music which means so very, very much to so many millions of us. But Alex and Bernd absolutely soar on the stage, blending deep respect and love for the music with astonishing authenticity and total inside understanding of just what makes George Harrison so incredibly special.

And it was a fabulous selection they offered. You sense for Alex that Harrison’s early solo epic All Things Must Pass is the starting point and end point; and repeatedly he returned to it, mixing in tracks from the triple with the great Beatles Harrison classics which preceded it and the solo numbers that followed it, right through to those which were released posthumously.

Something, Here Comes The Sun and perhaps above all While My Guitar were spine-tingling, so beautifully done, as indeed was My Sweet Lord which closed the night. Fabulous too was All Those Years Ago, Harrison’s tribute to the murdered Lennon. Outstanding too was Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth), so urgent still and so essential.

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Perhaps the icing on the cake was that the duo format allows us Alex at his chattiest, always giving context in the most engaging way. Alex set out his stall at the start: he wanted the night to feel like a happy, relaxed gathering of friends – and that’s exactly what he made it.

But there was a lovely surprise too. Alex and Bernd have set to music a poem which Harrison’s widow Olivia wrote as she tried to come to terms with his death so young. Rich and poignant, their setting of Keepsakes was a huge highlight of the night.

All Things Must Pass – The Duo complete their mini tour on November 30 in Lewes Con Club. Judging by the response they had in Felpham, they will surely extend the tour considerably next year. Great music, great musicians, a great evening. Very, very special indeed.

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