Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Moby, Eddie Vedder + others – Change Begins Within (2017)

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On April 4, 2009, New York’s Radio City Music Hall was filled with joy and unity as renowned artists gathered in front of a sold-out crowd. This scene may sound like a typical concert, but in reality it was a fundraiser for the David Lynch Foundation, an international organization dedicated to teaching transcendental meditation to disadvantaged youth.

Hosted by the maverick film director, the event boasted performances by Moby, Bettye LaVette, Eddie Vedder, Sheryl Crow, Ben Harper, Donovan, Ringo Starr, and Paul McCartney. Newly released on DVD and Blu-ray, the concert Change Begins Within shines when these artists appear onstage together, clearly reveling in their collegiality.

Moby and LaVette begin the evening with their rendition of Moby’s 2000 hit “Natural Blues”; wisely, Moby mainly lets LaVette dominate the spotlight with her bluesy, Mavis Staples-like voice. Vedder delivers a tender version of his 2007 solo track “Rise,” accompanying himself on mandolin. The crowd comes alive, however, when he and Harper collaborate on a surprisingly effective rendition of “Under Pressure.” Vedder and Harper replicate David Bowie and Freddie Mercury’s harmonies admirably—hardly an easy feat.

Change Begins Within continues with Crow’s delivery of a sincere, passionate version of George Harrison’s “My Sweet Lord,” an apt choice given the evening’s spiritual subject. Her vocals warmly wrap around the song’s signature melody, demonstrating why she remains one of the most versatile singers in rock. Transporting the audience back to the 1960s, Donovan treats the audience to “Hurdy Gurdy Man” and “Isle of Islay,” the latter greatly enhanced by Paul Horn’s elegant jazz flute.

Continuing with the ’60s theme, Beatles legend Ringo Starr energetically bounds on the stage, illustrating how he masterfully connects with the crowd. He leads Harper’s band in a cheerful rendition of “It Don’t Come Easy,” later explaining that he performed it because Harrison co-wrote the track with him. George Harrison would have fully supported David Lynch’s cause, Starr adds, thus he wanted to represent his bandmate that evening. Watching Harper and Vedder sing backup vocals on “Boys” delights, as does Crow’s grinning and dancing during the mass-singalong “Yellow Submarine.”

Paul McCartney, the final headliner for Change Begins Within, chiefly played a scaled-down version of his typical concerts. He excited the audience with a selection of Beatles and solo hits such as “Drive My Car,” “Jet,” “Let It Be,” and “Here Today.” But when Ringo Starr retakes the stage to sing “With a Little Help from My Friends,” the audience stood up and cheered, clearly delighting in seeing the two Beatles together again. McCartney and Starr’s broad smiles revealed how much they were also enjoying the reunion.

Lastly, the entire group rejoins McCartney and Starr for Change Begins Within‘s two closing numbers: “Cosmically Conscious,” a track McCartney wrote while studying with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1967; and “I Saw Her Standing There,” a perennial crowd favorite. LaVette dances with Donovan and smiles, seemingly excited to be sharing the stage with such luminaries (and her soulful voice made her more than fit in); Crow sings backup and dances wildly to the Beatles track. Those concluding songs summarize the spirit of collegiality and pure fun of that evening.

The superior sound quality of the Change Begins Within DVD makes the viewer feel as if he or she were in the audience. While Jerry Seinfeld also performs a stand up segment, it’s the music that truly stands out, and the evening’s ebullient performances are not to be missed.

Extras include interviews Lynch conducted with McCartney, Starr, Vedder, and Harper about their music and experiences with transcendental meditation.


Kit O'Toole

Kit O'Toole

Kit O'Toole is a lifelong music enthusiast who maintains a stand-alone music blog called Listen to the Band. In addition, she is the internet columnist and a contributing editor for Beatlefan magazine. She also holds an Ed.D. in Instructional Technology. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
Kit O'Toole
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