Sussex Express: Dazzling celebration of George Harrison's genius REVIEW: All Things Must Pass Orchestra, Brighton Komedia and The Spring Arts & Heritage Centre in Havant. By Phil Hewitt Friday, 20th May 2022
You could very easily argue that All Things Must Pass is among the finest songs ever written by anyone anywhere at any time. And then they did While My Guitar Gently Weeps. And then Something. Then Here Comes The Sun. And then finished with My Sweet Lord. And of course, they could also have given us Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth). Absolute gems, one and all. Songs of rare depth and beauty. George Harrison’s legacy is a remarkable one. And it takes a rare band to do them justice – just as the All Things Must Pass Orchestra did so abundantly and skilfully on their three-date mini tour. Seaford-based band leader Alex Eberhard remarked that the world needs George Harrison right now. Definitely. But it also needs the All Things Must Pass Orchestra to give those songs the live airing they crave. This was a great gig in the slightly cramped intimacy of The Spring – even more cramped for the ten-piece band on the stage. The result was spine-tinglingly good – a wonderful reminder of George Harrison’s brilliance by a band who are individually and collectively brilliant too.
Henley Herald - 12 June 2017 by Lindsay McLoughlin ☛ link ☚ Henley Standard - Interview with Sam Brown ☛ link ☚ Chichester Observer - Review by Phil Hewitt ☛ link ☚
Festival of Chichester 2016 - 29th June
Bliss. Total bliss. Brilliant music brilliantly delivered by brilliant musicians. And – the icing on the cake – the night brought the sell-out audience the band so richly deserved.
Think of The Beatles, both solo and together, and inevitably it’s Lennon and McCartney you think of. Even after all these years, “the quiet Beatle” still slips under the radar – which is precisely why a night in the company of The All Things Must Pass Orchestra is such pure pleasure.
George Harrison is their sole focus, and the ten-piece orchestra does his music justice, delivering the songs with freshness and energy – and supreme skill.
Alex Eberhard is the band leader, sounding more than enough like Harrison to make the whole thing work while at the same time tribute in its truest sense – ie absolutely avoiding slavish corny impersonation.
Behind him every member of his George Harrison big band plays a vital part, the sheer scale of it all underlining the sheer scale of Harrison’s output. A wonderful version of While My Guitar Gently Weeps will linger long in memory, as will the track that gives the orchestra its name. My Sweet Lord was a great way to round the night off, and Here Comes The Sun and Something were beautifully, spine-tinglingly done.
But there was also plenty for those of us proud to consider ourselves Harrison anoraks, with great versions of Cheer Down and P2 Vatican Blues and even, maybe most ambitious of all, a stab at Within You Without You which worked remarkably well. A sad note was that this was the last gig with the band for departing backing singer Lo Polidoro whose What Is Life was outstanding in a very crowded field. All in all, a great night then – and a great night too for the Festival of Chichester which more than doubled the band’s audience from last year to this. Phil Hewitt
'This concert will undoubtedly prove one of the high spots of the entire 2015 Festival of Chichester. In fact, one of the high spots of our three Festivals of Chichester so far.
'Tribute is a much-debased word and one the musicians would probably resist, but a tribute in the truest, finest sense was precisely what they delivered: a celebration of George Harrison’s music, delivered with huge affection and immense skill. Harrison’s nature was to be the “quiet one”, the one all too easily overlooked. But quietly he amassed an astonishing body of work which, post-Beatles, tumbled out on the astonishing triple album ‘All Things Must Pass’ – the starting point, the end point and indeed the name for Alex Eberhard’s hugely-impressive ten-piece homage.
'On a wonderful night for the festival, for the band and for everyone in the audience, ‘All Things Must Pass’ ranged widely through Harrison’s work from his Beatles days through to his posthumously-released final album. They did so with brilliance, daring to do their own thing at times but always capturing the spirit of the music and the man, quite probably the most fascinating of all the Fab Four.
'Alex’s vocals were close, so close, without ever reeking of imitation. In fact, it was the naturalness of everyone on stage that made it all so thoroughly enjoyable. Backing vocalists Lo Polidoro and Stella Clifford enhanced everything throughout; Alex and fellow Austrian Bernd Rest were superb on guitars; bassist Dave Barnard was rock solid and Marianne Hillier-Brook a revelation on drums. Harrison, so sophisticated a composer, was fortunate to work with a string of great drummers. Posthumously, he’s found another great one here. Put it all together, and it was an evening you couldn’t help but smile through – whilst vigorously kicking yourself for not listening to more Harrison, a resolve most of us probably went home with.
'How often are Harrison’s songs put together in this way? ‘All Things Must Pass’ did us and Harrison himself a great favour on a classy night. Harrison’s music demands superb musicianship; and that’s exactly what it got. This was a memorable night indeed. Now… just how do we get them back next year?'
Brighton & Hove Musical Times 2015
(published April 2015) (digital copy) We’re in the back room of The Nelson with Alex Eberhard, who started ‘The All Things Must Pass Orchestra’ project two years ago with the aim of playing the music of George Harrison live. He recruited nine other musicians including trombonist Paul Nieman, whose connection with GH will be revealed later. Alex’s links to George go way back.
“I am Austrian, born in the small village of Burgau in the south-eastern part of the country, where I lived until I was 20. When I was about 13, my grandmother gave me my very first guitar which had a George Harrison sticker on it. I’ve still got that guitar. I pretty soon got a band together and we did some Beatles covers but a lot of George’s music was a bit too complicated for me to play when I started.
“I really got into George Harrison’s first solo ‘All Things Must Pass’. In 1981, when George released the track ‘All Those Years Ago’- his tribute to John Lennon who had been killed the year before – I sent the only fan letter I ever sent to a rock star asking if he would be kind enough to tell me what chords he used in that song. I never got a reply.
“When I was 16, I studied drums with a private teacher for two years, which prepared me for admission to a music university in Graz. Over an eight or nine year period, I first studied classical percussion, gained a teaching degree and did a Master’s degree; then studied jazz drums and classical guitar.
“My main teacher for many years was the Principal Timpanist for the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra. On occasions, when they needed more percussionists, they employed students and I got to play with them. That taught me that this is not the path I want to go down. When you’re a percussionist you play some simple strokes and then you sit there for ages counting bars and rests. It’s not very satisfying.
“During this period I had been teaching privately on the side and when I left I gained a proper official job as a full-time guitar and drum teacher, which I could have carried on until retirement but I was frustrated because there weren’t any gigs as a jazz drummer.
“So in 2002, I came to England and I was fortunate enough to get into the resident jazz band at The Lion and Lobster here in Brighton and I played with them twice a week. The band is still going and I think they’re celebrating 15 years this year. That’s how I met a lot of musicians that I’m still working with today.
“The idea for doing this project came after I watched clips of ‘The Concert for George’ at the Albert Hall in 2002 and I thought what a huge sound. I realised I would need a 10-piece band to reproduce that. I wanted to celebrate his music without being a Beatles’ tribute band. None of us are trying to look like George Harrison.”
Paul, a longtime jazz trombonist and Brighton resident, has his own interesting GH connection: he actually played on several tracks on ‘All Things Must Pass’.
“The funny thing is I’m shockingly hazy about the details,” he says. “I was either hired by someone who booked London session musicians at the time or by one of the players themselves. As I recall there were nine brass players. We were in Abbey Road studios with the producer Phil Spector but George wasn’t there. The track already existed in part so there was enough for us to play to but it was incomplete. They were fairly simple lines. I don’t think we were given music. Instead Phil Spector sang the lines that he wanted us to play. We were mainly all playing in unison and I do recall thinking it wasn’t a very economical use of nine brass players. Most of the time was actually spent waiting, drinking cups of tea, with nothing to do. Phil Spector was striking and the thing I remember most about him was his multicoloured glasses, split into a rainbow of about three or four colours.”