“There’s a long life ahead of you and it’s going to be beautiful, as long as you keep loving and hugging each other,” Yoko Ono told a sold-out crowd at BAM’s Howard Gilman Opera House last night. “It’s really good for your health, you know.” Given the fact that she’s still making relevant, boundary-pushing music at the age of 76, it would be wise to listen when she gives health advice. We Are Plastic Ono Band, last night’s event hosted by Yoko and her son, Sean, was all about togetherness.
The first half of the performance showcased an incredibly tight backing band led by Sean with the Japanese musicians Keigo Oyamada, better known as Cornelius, and Yuka Honda of Cibo Matto. The band tore through eight of Yoko’s solo songs with a unique blend of funk, synths, and world influences. Yoko danced, screamed, howled, recited spoken word, and occasionally even sang. The second part of the show featured an oddly eclectic VIP list that revealed Yoko’s wide array of musical styles and tastes. Paul Simon and his son Harper performed two songs together, including a touching version of John Lennon’s “Hold On.” Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon joined Yoko for a screeching, feedback-heavy version of her song “Mulberry.” Bette Midler sent the crowd swooning with a jazzy rendition of “Yes, I’m Your Angel,” a song Yoko wrote for John as he was approaching his 40th birthday. Eric Clapton joined the band for the show’s three-song finale, including the Beatles classic “Yer Blues.” Other guests included the Scissor Sisters, Justin Bond, Mark Ronson, and Gene Ween, who performed a beautiful rendition of Lennon’s classic ode to Ono “Oh Yoko” alongside Sean. The night was not just a celebration of Yoko’s career, but of her spirit, creativity, and resilience. And of course, John was not far from anybody’s thoughts, especially during the encore, when all of the artists retook the stage to perform the classic Ono-Lennon duet “Give Peace a Chance.”