Echo Park, CA- Monday July 24, an uncharacteristically humid evening for Los Angeles, found a line wrapped around the unassuming entrance to the gritty Echo night club on Sunset Blvd in Echo Park. Though an hour before doors were set to open, those lined up buzzed with the anticipation of seeing the only child of Beatles legend George Harrison perform in one of only two American shows, the other set for a festival in New York City on Sunday, July 30th. As the heavy clouds accented the usually blue sky, I stood with friends who had offered up a last minute ticket to see Dhani Harrison in a gig that had apparently sold out in the blink of an eye.
An unusual summer misting of rain felt good as we waited on the steamy sidewalk in a crowd spanning all ages, from young 20-somethings to folks who had probably excitedly cheered Dhani’s dad on Ed Sullivan from their black and white television sets over 50-years ago. Although extremely familiar with George Harrison’s body of work, both in the Beatles and as a solo musician, I had to admit I knew little in advance about his son, whose Indian-spelled name is pronounced as the American accented “Danny.” An anticipatory Google search produced images of a dark haired young man who is close to a dead ringer for his much missed father. I was able to listen to one song, a pre-released teaser called All About Waiting from Dhani’s recently recorded album In///Parallel, set to hit the streets on October 6. The song, a medium tempo rock ‘n roll number, is strong on its own, while slightly haunted by reminiscences of George.
Though I know it is unfair to seek familiarity in a piece of work that stands quite beautifully as its own artistic creation, I felt ghostly echoes between the lines, between the beats, of George’s brilliant song, The Art of Dying. The comparisons are the pitfall of being the progeny of a legend, I suppose, and one cannot be totally separated from the other. DNA is quite deep and complex, and perhaps the album title, In///Parallel, reflects that grey area of walking in the footsteps of someone who is very much a part of the writer’s own identity, vibrating in harmonic essence with every cell that Dhani was created to be.
So when the doors to the club finally opened, the crowd surged and packed the small and well-worn Echo, filling it like a sardine can, from the stage on back. A three-piece opening band led by a cute, flouncy-skirted, pixie-like blonde named Mereki, rumored to be Dhani’s girlfriend, warmed up the crowd with a short set of cheery pop, feeling very much to me like an ’80s Scandinavian dance group. Their upbeat tempo appealed to many, though it was not an exact fit for the moody elegance that was Dhani’s music, that seemed to take a late 1960s post-psychedelic aura mixed with a bit of a ’90s flavor, emerging fresh and modern. Dhani alternated between several guitars, a keyboard and even a ukulele, all while singing pulsing, yet poetic, rock ‘n roll. Though his stage banter and engagement with the audience was minimal, Dhani delivered a solid and engaging performance which seemed to end too soon. After a two-song encore he left the stage, leaving the crammed-in audience to regain its breathing space and ponder the complexities of music and genetics. Dhani Harrison proved himself as a rightful artist on his own, though obviously the expectations and comparisons will likely continue to be a mighty high hurdle for him to leap.
— CamGreyArchives (@CamGreyArchives) July 25, 2017