REVIEW: McCartney wins over Fairfield audience in U.S. debut concert

James McCartney Band
James McCartney Band

By Diana Nollen

FAIRFIELD — The face is the same, but the voice might even be better.

It can’t be easy to be a Beatles baby. How are you supposed to carve your musical niche when you look and sound so much like your dad?

Shave your head, for starters.

Even without hair, James McCartney is still the spitting image of his famous father. It’s those eyes. And those glorious tenor pipes.

The younger McCartney, 32, made his U.S. concert debut Saturday night, playing back-to-back sold-out concerts at the Stephen Sondheim Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Fairfield.

The evening was a triple treat for audience members, who showered the artists multiple standing ovations throughout. McCartney and his bandmates opened the show with 40 minutes of blistering rock ’n’ roll, followed by Pleasantville native turned New York blues belter Laura Dawn and The Little Death.

Sixties folk icon Donovan wrapped up the show with his timeless hits, including “Hurdy Gurdy Man,” “Season of the Witch,” “Colours,” “Lalena” and “Riki Tiki Tavi,” calling all the performers back onstage for “Mellow Yellow.”

The eclectic event was part of the fourth annual David Lynch “Change Begins Within” Weekend at Maharishi University. Lynch, filmmaker and director of “The Elephant Man,” “Blue Velvet,” “Mulholland Drive” and “Twin Peaks,” stepped into the spotlight to welcome the audience and introduce the musicians.

While all the bands were terrific, I was most interested in hearing McCartney and company. OK, and secretly hoping his dad would be in the audience or watching from the wings. (If he was, I didn’t see him.)

Besides genetic blessings, the young McCartney has the material to make a name for himself. He just needs to find a little more confidence to allow himself to relax and connect with his listeners. He introduced each song by title, and thanked the audience sincerely, but he often began his songs by turning his back to the audience and looking at his bass player. And most of his songs just ended abruptly or with a sigh.

His material, written over 10 years is in the final stages of being turned into a CD, deals with themes of social consciousness, friendship and spirituality. Some are ballads, some have a punk edge, others have a Middle Eastern flair and most just showcase a good, solid rock edge.

He has a knack for thoughtful, careful lyrics, sung in a crystal-clear tone, and he’s equally adept at guitar and keyboards.With a little more experience and exposure, he could easily have a more lustrous career than Sean or Julian Lennon.