For about a decade now, we’ve seen dead celebrities returned to life as holographic performers. There was, most famously and eerily, that Tupac hologram at 2012's Coachella. And, spurred on by the remarkable weirdness of that show, there have been efforts to revive Freddie Mercury, Selena, Amy Winehouse, and Marilyn Monroe as techno-ghosts. At best, these holograms have been a slightly disconcerting tribute to the departed. At worst, they’re blasphemies of nature that glossily allow for corporate exploitation of the departed from beyond the grave.
With the latter in mind, we now report that Paul McCartney performed alongside his late Beatles bandmate John Lennon last night. But, by using regular old video footage and isolated audio instead of a hologram, it was somehow, incredibly, not actually all that creepy.
At last night’s Spokane Arena show—the first date of McCartney’s current U.S. tour—the musician played a bunch of Beatles tracks, from “Blackbird” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” to “You Never Give Me Your Money,” “Getting Better,” “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window,” and “Hey Jude.” (The full setlist and a few extra phone-shot videos are available at Stereogum.)
To kick off the encore, comprised entirely of late-period Beatles songs, McCartney performed “I’ve Got A Feeling.” Partway through, the giant screen behind him shifted from a swirl of colors to footage of John Lennon playing the song during the The Beatles’ 1969 Apple rooftop concert. There was also an isolated vocal track that let McCartney sing alongside his late bandmate.
It’s certainly strange to watch and listen to the performance, but far less so than any hologram version of Lennon would’ve been. And, if nothing else, McCartney explained how it all came to be with a kind of nonchalance that suggests he found the concept more interesting than morbid.
“So, Peter Jackson, the director of the Get Back film, he texts me one day,” McCartney says after finishing the song. “And he says, ‘we can extract John’s voice. He can sing with you live.’”
Rather than be put off by the idea, McCartney shrugs and finishes his story by saying he responded to Jackson by simply stating: “And I thought, well ...”
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