Music is the gift that never stops giving. The beats and lyrics and charismatic performers that moved us in our youth have staying power and remain on our play lists for decades to come. It’s okay to get nostalgic with these artists – and if you know anyone who isn’t a fan yet, here’s an opportunity to convert them.
After broadcast and general streaming for a month in most cases, a selection of music icons’ concerts remain streaming exclusively for PBS station members. The member benefit Passport allows PBS to present this Summer Concert Series, available on any platform. Here are some highlights we’re super excited about: Queen, Journey, Ms. Lauryn Hill, the Concert for George, and Paul Simon.
“Mama mia let me go” – not to the ABBA music-laced film sequel, but to the upcoming biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which dramatizes the rise of Freddie Mercury and the British rock band Queen, following the band from the 1970s through lead singer Mercury’s death from AIDS in 1991. Rami Malek (Mr. Robot) stars as the dynamic vocalist who used growls and vibrato like no other in rock. The November 2 release is a very long note to hold for fans, which is why we’re filling up until then on Queen Rocks the World, released by PBS this July.
Queen Rock the World
In 1977, the BBC began a documentary on Queen, filming recording sessions of the pared down News of the World album (“We Will Rock You,” “We Are the Champions”) and accompanying the band’s sold-out North American tour, which pushed 26 concerts in six weeks. The documentary was never completed until 2017, finally revealing never-before-seen footage in time for Queen’s 40th anniversary tour. Filmed at a high point in their success, what’s remarkable to witness is the earnestness and work ethic of the brainy band – Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon – whether in recording sessions, stadium sound checks, self-evaluations of performances post-concert, or in interviews with director Bob Harris. The 2017 release overlays new commentary from May, Taylor and Harris on the arc of 1977. This is a must-see for any Queen fan.
Ms. Lauryn Hill
Lauryn Hill sings “Doo Wop (That Thing)” at Austin City Limits.
At the top of her game 20 years ago when she released her highly acclaimed solo album, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, former Fugees member Ms. Lauryn Hill is notorious for keeping fans waiting, and this summer is no exception. She has cancelled or postponed the July and August dates in the U.S. for The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill anniversary tour, including August 8 at the PNC Bank Arts Center in her home state of New Jersey. From September on, the tour dates are still in the running.
To delve into Hill’s MC talents and cultural significance (her solo album is even part of the Library of Congress’ highly selective National Recording Registry), be sure to check out hip-hop journalist Joan Morgan’s scholarly new book She Begat This: 20 Years of The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, out August 7. Jezebel offers an in-depth interview with Morgan.
Austin City Limits: Ms. Lauryn Hill
You can also see Ms. Lauryn Hill in concert on demand via this 2016 PBS broadcast, with songs off The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and the Fugees’ second and final album, The Score, backed by a 12-piece band. The press raved about the Austin City Limits performance:
- “Showstopping…Hill and her stacked band deliver an electrifying take,” Rolling Stone
- “One of the best in the show’s history,” Hot New Hip-Hop
- “Her performance makes clear why she’s one of the all-time greats…Hill and her band are on-a-dime perfect,” Crave
- “The songstress (and MC) displays her strongest gifts in one of her best performances in years,” Ambrosia For Heads
Watch Austin City Limits: Ms. Lauryn Hill now with THIRTEEN Passport.
Set list: Ex Factor / Final Hour / Lost Ones / Fu-Gee-La / How Many Mics / Ready or Not / Killing Me Softly / Feeling Good / Doo Wop (That Thing)
Don’t stop believing: rumors keep circulating that singer Steve Perry might reunite with Journey, or maybe just with guitarist Neal Schon on a project. The power ballad band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017. Of its many past members, inductees included lead singer Steve Perry, guitarist Neal Schon, keyboardists Jonathan Cain and Gregg Rolie, bassist Ross Valory, and drummers Aynsley Dunbar and Steve Smith.
Journey in Concert: Houston 1981
In 1981 Journey was at the height of its success when it toured its Escape album (“Don’t Stop Believin”). The stadium-packing band from San Francisco agreed to have the nascent MTV network film its night at The Summit (a venue also seen in Queen Rocks the World), which today gives us Journey in Concert: Houston 1981. The band’s incarnation then was:
- Steve Perry on lead vocals
- Neal Schon on lead guitar, background vocals
- Ross Valory on bass, background vocals
- Steve Smith on drums, percussion
- Jonathan Cain on keyboards, rhythm guitar, background vocals
Watch Journey in Concert: Houston 1981 now with THIRTEEN Passport.
Set list: Lights / Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin’ / Wheel in the Sky / Any Way You Want It / Open Arms / Who’s Crying Now / Don’t Stop Believin / and more
Concert for George
George Harrison, lead guitarist and a songwriter for The Beatles, died of cancer at age 58 on November 29, 2001. The songs written by this “Quiet One” of the Fab Four – and his post-Beatles projects – are outranking the streaming of his bandmates’ compositions all these years later, according to an article by Jeff Slate earlier in 2018.
To honor his songs and the music Harrison loved, his widow Olivia Harrison and guitarist Eric Clapton organized the Concert for George, which took place in London’s Royal Albert Hall a year to the day after he died. Now streaming on PBS, the one-hour and 45-minute program opens in the spirit of his Hindu beliefs and with a welcome by longtime friend Eric Clapton. Featured artists include his son Dhani Harrison, Jools Holland, Jeff Lynne, Joe Brown, Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, Billy Preston, and Ringo Starr. The love in the hall included laughter, brought by Michael Palin and Monty Python performing their “I’m a Lumberjack” song routine.
Watch Concert for George now with THIRTEEN Passport.
Paul SimonBorn in Newark, NJ, raised in Kew Gardens Hills in Queens, NY and a graduate of Forest Hills High School and Queens College, the music legend Paul Simon is closing his farewell tour, called Homeward Bound, in September with dates at Newark’s Prudential Center, Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden, and Queen’s Flushing Meadows – Corona Park. The hit-making singer who bridges contemporary folk and pop has won multiple Grammy awards as a solo artist and as part of Simon and Garfunkel.
In a statement about retiring from touring, Simon wrote: “I anticipate doing the occasional performance in a (hopefully) acoustically pristine hall, and to donate those earnings to various philanthropic organizations, particularly those whose objective is to save the planet, ecologically.”
At the same time he’s winding down as a touring musician, he will leave us with something familiar, but new: his 14th studio album, In The Blue Light drops September 7. It promises to give “fresh perspectives on 10 of the artist’s favorite songs” from his body of work, from There Goes Rhymin’ Simon (1973) to So Beautiful Or So What (2011).
Now streaming on PBS, Paul Simon: The Concert in Hyde Park chronicles the legendary artist’s historic concert at the 2012 Hard Rock Calling Festival in London with an epic career-spanning 26-song set. The straight concert footage (no interviews) features a 25th anniversary Graceland reunion including Hugh Masekela and Ladysmith Black Mambazo, as well as a surprise appearance from reggae legend Jimmy Cliff and others. The backing Paul Simon band includes Tony Cedras, Jamey Haddad, Bakithi Kumalo, Vincent Nguini, Jim Oblon, Mick Rossi, Andy Snitzer and Mark Stewart.
Watch Paul Simon: The Concert in Hyde Park now with THIRTEEN Passport.
See the set list.