Shari B. Ellis told Beatles Examiner June 3 that the very intimate May 31 house concert she attended featuring Denny Laine and Peter Asher was “epic.” She also said the amount of music history on the stage left her awestruck.
“I won a pair of tickets through Rock Cellar Magazine, and I brought someone from a Beatles sing-along group I belong to as my guest,” she said in an email. “It was part of their 'house concert' series in the backyard of a castle-like home in Chatsworth hills, complete with a full-blown stage with lights.
"It felt like a miniature version of Northern California's Mountain Winery. Peter Asher commented on 'Breakfast with the Beatles' that it was an unusually professional set-up for a house concert.
Ellis said some people had traveled a long way for the show. “Just before the concert started, RCM's photographer, Keri, saw my camera and we started chatting. It turns out she was from Fans on the Run, and had seen my video for 'Appreciate.' She introduced me to her other McCartney fan friends, some of whom had traveled from Ohio and New Jersey for the concert. She told me I now have 'many tour mamas' for life!
“A local band, King Washington, opened for Denny, and they were incredible. Their harmonies are chill-inducing, whether they were performing slow songs or rocking out. There were a couple of amusing moments when the hosts' dog decided to join them on stage, and again, when the drummer, who'd been given the wrong start time, rushed in mid-set.
“Denny Laine performed 'Band on the Run' in its entirety, alternating singing lead with Jeff Alan Ross of Peter Asher's band, and formerly of Badfinger. He sprinkled anecdotes in between, such as the fact that Dustin Hoffman inspired 'Picasso's Last Words.' He was very amusing, introducing 'Let Me Roll It' as being for the people in the front row who were rolling special cigarettes. At one point, he gave us his best Phil Collins impression. For me, the highlights were 'Band on the Run,' 'Helen Wheels' and 'Mamunia.'
Next, Peter Asher of Peter and Gordon was introduced. He joked that he is known for his long, winding anecdotes, and we were all perfectly okay with that. He is such a fascinating storyteller, and I could listen to him all day and night. He mentioned that as he spoke, we were missing the highlights of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, and seeing him induct Brian Epstein.
“By far, my favorite Peter story was about seeing Jimi Hendrix at the theater Brian had purchased, The Saville Theater, in the box normally reserved for the Queen when she was in town, sipping champagne and smoking hashish with The Beatles. He talked about the Everly Brothers' influence on groups like Peter and Gordon, and he introduced 'World Without Love' by saying John Lennon hated the song, and at the first lyric "Please, lock me away," he'd interrupt and say, 'Okay, we're done!' which, as Peter put it, "was very John." The audience gave Peter a well-deserved standing ovation.
After an intermission for dessert provided by our gracious hosts, the group performed more Wings songs, with Peter returning as part of the 'house band.' My friend mentioned that the band seemed much more relaxed, and it certainly felt even more rock 'n roll than the first half. I especially enjoyed hearing Denny playing harmonica during 'Time to Hide.'
“Peter later introduced Ross as the evening's musical director, and gave us the story of Mal Evans discovering Badfinger when they were the Iveys. He told us that even though 'Baby Blue' has suddenly become Badfinger's most prominent song due to 'Breaking Bad,' 'Day After Day' was always his favorite, and I think Ross' performance of the song was an emotional favorite for the audience.
“At the end of the set was 'Live and Let Die, which was minus the pyrotechnics, earning the group another standing ovation. The set list shows they were supposed to end the encore with 'Spirits of Ancient Egypt.' But it was probably more fitting that they finished with 'Go Now,' featuring guest artists including one of the Bangles.
“After the concert, one of the hosts let me have a set list. Peter had to leave, but I did get the chance to meet Denny, who was just the nicest guy, and he signed my set list. In fact, Denny stayed to pose for photos and sign autographs a long time, and I was impressed by his grace and patience, even helping out when people were having technical difficulties with their iPhones!
“It was an epic experience, and other concertgoers have said the same. I was already excited to see Denny Laine for the first time. With Peter and Jeff added to the mix, and Denny and Peter's stories giving us context, I was just left awestruck by the tremendous combination of music history on that stage.”
(More photos from the show from Rock Cellar Magazine.)