Thursday, January 19, 2012

Concert Review: Peter Asher at the Dakota

On Monday night I attended a really fun show at the Dakota. Peter Asher, of Peter and Gordon fame, brought his show to the Dakota. Asher sings Peter and Gordon songs, and tells stories about his life. It was a great night, and truly amazing to hear stories about the Beatles from someone who was actually there during the swinging 60’s. Asher is a great storyteller, and you can tell he’s a very smart and very nice guy. Here’s the background story on Peter Asher-his sister is the actress Jane Asher, who dated Paul McCartney during most of the 1960’s. Soon after Jane started dating Paul, Peter’s singing career with his school friend Gordon Waller was starting to take off. Peter asked Paul if there were any songs he’d written that he and Gordon could record. Paul gave “A World Without Love” to Peter and Gordon, and it became a number one single on both sides of the Atlantic in early 1964. In the US, it was the first number one single of the British Invasion by an artist other than the Beatles. Peter and Gordon went on to have 9 more Top 40 hits in the US, and after they split up, Peter went into producing. Asher was the A&R man at Apple Records, and it was while he was at Apple that he discovered a signed a young American singer/songwriter named James Taylor. Taylor’s first album was released on the Apple label, and when Allen Klein took over the Beatles’ business dealings Asher left and took Taylor with him. Asher became Taylor’s manager and produced several albums for him as Taylor went from unknown to superstar. Asher also managed and produced Linda Ronstadt during the 1970’s. Asher has produced lots of albums by big stars since the 1970’s, including several for Diana Ross and Neil Diamond.

Asher’s show consists of him singing several Peter and Gordon songs and telling stories about his life and music. The second half was a bit heavy on the talking, but all of Asher’s stories are still really interesting. Asher has assembled a very good band, so the songs sound very good. And Asher’s voice still sounds wonderful, so he can still hit those high notes that he did in the 1960’s. Unfortunately, Gordon Waller passed away in 2009, so we have to make do with Asher’s band harmonizing. Although Asher did harmonize with Gordon through the magic of video clips of Peter and Gordon performing in the 2000’s. Asher sang all of Peter and Gordon’s big hits, “I Go to Pieces,” “Nobody I Know,” “Lady Godiva,” “True Love Ways,” “Woman,” and of course, “A World Without Love.” Asher also told great stories about the Beatles, like how he was the first person other than John and Paul to hear the finished “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” John and Paul finished the song at the Asher’s house, and played it for Peter in the basement music room. Asher said it was an amazing moment, being present at the creation of a great work of art, even if it was just a pop song. Interestingly enough, Jane and Peter’s parents liked Paul enough to let him live in their house when he was in London! Paul and Peter shared the top floor, and Paul lived with the Asher’s until he bought his own house in St. John’s Wood around 1967. Peter Asher was also part owner of the Indica book shop and art gallery, which Paul was also involved in. The Indica hosted a show of Yoko Ono’s in late 1966, and it was at the opening of this show where John Lennon met Yoko for the first time.

I got to meet Peter Asher after the show, and he was a super nice guy. He seemed really down to earth, and not at all stuck up on his own importance. It was pretty cool to meet living rock and roll history, and a man who played an integral part in the story of the Beatles.

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