By: Paulanne Simmons
September 2, 2019: Andrew Lloyd Webber, Elton John and Paul McCartney were celebrated together in Music of the Knights at Feinstein’s/54 on Below on August 28 because they share a singular honor. They have all been made Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. But, in fact, as Scott Coulter, who conceived, produced, directs and hosts the show, points out, they have much more in common.
All are Academy Award and Golden Globe winners. All have written at least one song covered by Barry Manilow. All have been married several times. And “all are the most generous people on the planet.”
What’s more, 1970 was a big year for all the knights. McCartney left the “boy band” and went out on his own. Elton John topped the charts with “Your Song.” And Webber’s “Jesus Christ Superstar” was released as a rock opera concept album. In the years to come the three men would take their place among the most influential musicians of all time.
Coulter has assembled a truly extraordinary group of singers for this show: John Boswell (also on piano), Carole J. Bufford, Natalie Douglas, Jessica Hendy, Blaine Krauss, Fay Ann Lee, Lorinda Lisitza, Kelli Rabke, Justin Talkington, Brian Wilson. And they performed the knights’ songs not only with great skill but also tremendous heart. Which songs make the biggest impression probably depends mostly on which songs one loves most dearly.
“Yesterday” (Rabke, Lisitza, Coulter, Boswell) and “Memory” (Hendy) are personal favorites because they’re about time and change. “Your Song” (Brian Wilson) and “I Don’t Know How to Love Him” (Lee) put words to love as we have all felt it. And the final number “Hey Jude” sung by the entire cast, is one of the most comforting and uplifting songs ever written.
Although there were a few light-hearted songs in the evening’s repertoire, the majority were the kind of classic ballads that stir our souls. In the Middle Ages troubadours sang of chivalry and courtly love. They celebrated the exploits of the knights. Historians say the art of the troubadours ended in the 14th century. Clearly, they never saw “Music of the Knights.”
Feinstein’s/54 Below is at 254 West 54 Street. www.54below.com.