25 Years Ago: George Harrison Plays His Final Full Concert
Harrison's aversion to live performance had long since become common knowledge. The Beatles famously stopped touring partly due to their increased inability to compete with their own crowd noise, and Harrison's sole attempt at a post-Fab Four solo excursion ended in frustration in 1974. For much of the '80s, he wasn't even musically active; it wasn't until late in the decade that he resurfaced with his hit Cloud Nine solo album and the first Traveling Wilburys release — and neither record prompted a full-fledged Harrison tour. It wasn't until late 1991 when, cajoled by his old friend Eric Clapton, he finally returned to the road — and even then, he only performed in Japan.
Clearly without a real itch to return to the stage, Harrison needed a push to get him back in front of a live audience — and he got in the form of the Natural Law Party, a political group founded on the principles of transcendental meditation whose affiliation with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi attracted Harrison's support. With the British general election looming on April 9, he sought to get the word out about the young party the best way he knew how.
"I want a total change and not just a choice between left and right," Harrison said in the press release announcing the show (provided by Ultimate Classic Rock reader Elliot S. Berke). "The system we have now is obsolete and not fulfilling the needs of the people. Times have changed and we need a new approach. ... the Natural Law Party is turning this election into a wonderful, national celebration and I am with them all the way."
To round out the bill, Harrison enlisted Joe Walsh and Gary Moore to open the show — but it was really him the crowd was there to see, a point loudly driven home when he stepped out on stage to get the show started. As he later admitted, the audience's warm reception took him by surprise.
"For years I always had the press always being bitchy and nasty, and I’d built up this impression that the British don’t like me and my music," Harrison admitted. "When I stepped on the Royal Albert Hall, it was unbelievable. I couldn’t control — the audience were just so happy. It was the most incredible buzz."
That buzz continued through a career-spanning set that — while it didn't really move the needle in terms of election-deciding votes for the Natural Law Party — proved Harrison hadn't lost a step, and still enjoyed a healthy demand for his music.
Unfortunately for fans, the night's musical high didn't lead to an outpouring of new performances or albums from Harrison. He'd resurface onstage a handful of times over the next decade, but the Albert Hall concert would prove to be his last complete show; by the time his next album, 2002's Brainwashed, arrived in stores, he had already died.
George Harrison and Friends, 4/6/92, Royal Albert Hall
"I Want to Tell You"
"Old Brown Shoe"
"Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth)"
"What Is Life"
"Got My Mind Set on You"
"Here Comes the Sun"
"My Sweet Lord"
"All Those Years Ago"
"Isn't It a Pity"
"While My Guitar Gently Weeps"
"Roll Over Beethoven"
See George Harrison and Other Rockers in the Top 100 Albums of the '70s