Plastic Ono Band – The Concert Skip to content

Plastic Ono Band – The Concert

When Yoko Ono announced that she would hold a Plastic Ono Band concert in Iceland it sold out in ten minutes. The ticket price, 2,000 kronur (about 17 USD, 13 EUR) would not have stopped anybody. It might have been triple that and still the concert would have sold out in ten minutes.

Yoko Ono. Photo: Páll Kjartansson

Yoko Ono is popular in Iceland. Not for her music, not many people know but few songs of the Lennon/Ono Double Fantasy album, but for her art piece Imagine Peace Tower of light in Videy. It is an unusual idea, and a clever idea. On dark winter nights the Peace Tower illuminates the sky.

I don’t really know why she has shown such fondness of Iceland, but we like the fact. Everyone likes to be liked.

I grew up with the Beatles. She loves you is the first song I remember, I saw the movies Hard days Night and Help. I remember when some nutcases in the US were burning Beatles Albums because of a remark John Lennon made about being more popular than Jesus Christ. I remember the news hour when it was announced that they would no longer tour. I bought one of the first Sgt. Pepper’s album sold in Iceland and I cut out the cardboard mustache. I also remember the stupid guru who brought them to India. And I remember Yoko Ono.

I am not one to blame Yoko for splitting up the Beatles. They couldn’t keep playing forever. Had they not split up we would not have had the remarkable solo albums of Lennon. His career after the split was worth it (Paul’s was not, even though he has written many good songs).

A friend of mine knew everything about the music of the generation and I do recall him saying that Yoko had made some excellent music and John might have to look out. Another friend said absolutely not. I couldn’t tell. Yoko’s music was unfamiliar to me as was her performance.

December 8, 1980 was truly a very sad day in my life. I remember it very well. I lived in the US back then and I remember Howard Cosell, a sport’s announcer saying he had terrible news, that the most popular Beatle had been shot.

Who would be most popular, I thought. John was my favorite, I had all his albums and none of Paul’s, but I still waited in horror, as the truth was revealed.

Like all of his fans I didn’t really want to believe what I heard. I wished it were not true.

In the concert on Saturday, October 9, 2010, Yoko began be reciting a poem.

It Happened

It happened at a time of my life when I least expected,

It happened at a time of my life when I least expected,

I don’t even remember how it happened,

I don’t even remember the day it happened.

But it happened,

Yes, it happened,

Ooh, it happened,

And I know there’s no return, no way.

It was a most appropriate beginning. A crowd of 1,000 people all wanted this event to be a turning point, back to the past, a tribute to Lennon and his songs. But Yoko said: “There’s no return, no way.”

When we came in everyone got a little stick with a light bulb at the end, the Onochord. Yoko Ono used one three years ago when she first lit the Peace Tower. You are supposed to point it at someone and blink and say “I love you.” After Yoko had said that about five times, Ringo Starr said: “I got the picture, baby!”

The concert took place in Háskólabíó, a cinema that seats about 1,000 people. Most of the people in the audience were in their fifties or older. The concert started on time with a film about Yoko. It was clear from the very beginning that the concert was a tribute to Yoko Ono, not John Lennon.

I could say the name of the songs, but most of the readers would not recognize them anyway. Some of the songs are from the album that Plastic Ono Band made last year. Some from the early days of Yoko Ono.

Sean Lennon was there wearing a beard and a bowler hat. He played the bass and the piano. Yoko was the star, but occasionally Sean said a bit. They made music, but not many melodies.

Sean and Yoko. Photo: Páll Kjartansson

In the very end we sang Give Peace a Chance, well known of course, but not really much of a song either. A melodic line one might say. A bunch of people joined Yoko on stage, most notably Ringo Starr. Ringo seems to be a very nice guy.

At the end some people were disappointed. A friend of mine said: “Why didn’t they play one song by the Beatles?”

On the way out I walked past Reykjavík mayor Jón Gnarr. He looked happy. His expression said: “Can you believe it. I was just on stage with Yoko Ono and Ringo Starr.”

I got the message, baby! Ringo and Yoko. Photo: Páll Kjartansson

I was glad. I thought that Yoko had made a very courageous statement. She could have played Imagine, but it would have felt corny. It had been on the radio and TV stations all day long, just as if it were the only song Lennon wrote. The message was clear:

“And I know there’s no return, no way.”

Benedikt Jóhannesson [email protected]

Photo: Páll Kjartansson

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