Last night, I went to my first Yoko Ono show at perhaps what has to be the smallest venue that any artist could have: in a museum (at the Museum of Modern Art), in a movie theater that seats only 200 people. 200 seats and yet the theater felt even smaller than that. Not surprisingly, with this venue being so small, tickets were sold out for both of Yoko's shows in only a matter of a few hours! As soon as I heard about her performing at MoMA from Facebook, I had to get a ticket as soon as possible! I did, of course, and I don't regret what was truly one special, unique concert experience.
Like Yoko said so herself, a movie theater is not exactly "a concert place." Like she also said so sweet and proudly after the show, "but we did it!" And she certainly did it, blowing my mind, truly.
(Photos taken by: Scott Rudd)
What made the intimacy of such a quiet, small place even better for a concert like Yoko's was that no filming and photography was allowed, except ones taken by a professional photographer, naturally. I'm one of those people that's pretty old school. I do not believe in taking photos or filming during a concert. Not only is it distracting and rude, but it takes away the focus of enjoying the moment, where people are too eager at capturing a past instead of just capturing the present and having fun.
Needless to say, Yoko is one of those unique and rare artists, easily misunderstood as she is easily loveable. In person, she's very short, small, and petite, but can she ever howl, sing, shout, and perform. It was incredible, she was phenomenal. Yoko performed a riveting, 11-song setlist:
1. Jazz #1 (improvisation)
2. (Unknown) poem: "you stoned me..."
4. Will I
5. (Unknown) poem: "I heard you saying..."
6. Jazz #2 (improvisation)
7. Take Me To The Land of Hell
8. (Unknown) poem: "go back..."
9. Higa Noboru
10. Jazz #3 (improvisation)
11. (Unknown) poem: "Your winter face"
Backing her was Denardo Coleman on drums, Erik Friedlander on cello, and Alan Licht on guitar. This "flexible lineup" that makes up the Plastic Ono Band: they ROCKED. In the very spirit of the Plastic Ono Band where it's "a band that would never exist..." it was evident by the performance that Yoko and the band planned ahead and rehearsed to put on a smashing show, and yet, it was freeform enough to where it seemed like at times even the band didn't know what Yoko was going to do next. Jokingly, or maybe he wasn't joking, Klaus Biesenbach said in introduction to Yoko Ono that he had no idea what was in store that night, that he was going to be as surprised as the audience would be. There were no surprises, like, Yoko didn't do any crazy stunts or anything like that, just her being her kooky, adorable self. I loved how for Jazz #1, after that intense performance, she said "That was only the intro!" Or other parts of the show, like with Will I, after the song, she'll say "Okay that's it." I can't help but say this over and over about Yoko, but she's ADORABLE, and so comfortable in her skin. She was wearing this cute black blouse that was sheer at the sleeves and black pants, wide-brimmed hat, very casual which was pretty acceptable for such a laid-back and intimate concert venue. It was more jazz orientated than rock and roll, and that was what I loved about the show too. The audience, all fans of course, loved every second of it. Yoko got a standing ovation, and I loved when her jaw dropped and she chirped "Oh my God!" If there was only flaw to the show, was that it was too short, only a little over an hour, but it was the best over an hour that one could spend. And it was with Yoko, where it's impossible to be bored by such a zany, artistic, universe-centered talented woman.
Aside from me meeting Yoko herself, I also met her friend, famed rock and roll photographer who has shot everyone from David Bowie, Elton John, Debbie Harry, etc., the sweet and lovely Bob Gruen!
He's most famous for being John Lennon's personal photographer, and for taking this photo:
And also known for taking some of these legendary shots (some of my favorites):
We sat next to each other at the front row of the show. He was a delight to talk to, glad I met Bob and his wife. It was also nice meeting Klaus, even though honestly, I find him quite cold and intimidating, but naturally, how could one not thank him for what he did for Yoko Ono's One Woman Show exhibit and for all that he does that makes MoMA the great museum that it is, one of NYC's greatest.
I heard that Yoko might perform at MoMA again before her exhibit closes. I'd see her again in a heartbeat. Yoko is not only one wild, amazing performer, but truly, such a total sweetie who did before the lucky and privileged 200 of us what Yoko Ono does best: being entirely herself.