Symphonic Tribute to The Music of Paul McCartney at the Schuster Center
By Benjamin Smith
Photo: Tony Kishman [pictured] and the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will perform the music of Paul McCartney in Live And Let Die at the Schuster Center on Friday, Oct. 18
Sir Paul McCartney unveils his new album – titled New (that scamp!) – this October. Although chances are beyond slim that The Cute One will make a promotional appearance in Dayton anytime soon, locals can get their Macca fix on Friday, Oct. 18, when long-time McCartney tribute artist Tony Kishman and his band perform with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra in Live And Let Die – A Symphonic Tribute to The Music of Paul McCartney. (The event is part of the Dayton Performing Arts Alliance’s Rockin’ Orchestra Series.) Kishman talked to the Dayton City Paper about the show, his career portraying Paul and meeting Beatles Producer George Martin.
You first portrayed Paul McCartney in the late 1970s, as part of Broadway’s “Beatlemania.” Looking back, what did you learn from that experience about “being McCartney”?
When I was cast in “Beatlemania,” it was such a big deal to me, since I had been performing in a Top 40 cover band and I had been in little clubs singing to small crowds. I was so excited to have been “discovered,” if you will, but to think that I had the massive task to play the greatest musician in the world … that was not a relaxing feeling. I had to take it very seriously, so I studied concert footage of Paul and The Beatles, and really watched how he stood and moved, and mainly how he approached each and every song. Then I would film myself performing and watch what I was doing so I could make the necessary changes. – Tony Kishman
Paul is an incredible bassist. You started out in music as a guitarist. How would you rate your bass ability now? Do you think that Paul is sometimes overlooked as a bassist?
McCartney’s bass lines are the most melodic and creative of any bass player. And he recorded many of the bass parts after his vocals were recorded, so here you have a monster bass line to play and a monster vocal to sing at the same time. It’s very challenging. However, my technique is much better now, and I know what to do and how to approach each song. -TK
So, after years of portraying Paul in different shows and tributes, what inspired you to launch this specific show and to perform with different orchestras?
It was time for me in my life to do something this challenging and to have something that nobody else could do. I know that even Paul would have a hard time doing this show. I chose the most famous and most difficult songs to perform live of his catalogue; even Sir Paul would be out of breath on this show. Vocally, it’s a challenge. -TK
Which song in Live And Let Die has proven to be the most difficult to perform live? Which do you enjoy performing the most?
The most difficult song to perform and sing is “Silly Love Songs,” due to the extremely high vocal. My favorite song is “The Long And Winding Road” – brilliant song, and very emotional. -TK
In the show, you mix Beatles songs with songs from Wings and from Paul’s solo albums. How did you even begin to select which ones to cover?
In selecting the songs, they had to have several things going for them. One: they had to be a Number One hit. Two: they had to have orchestration for the symphony. Three: I had to be able to sing and sound like Paul in the song. And that’s what makes our show. -TK
Random question: Paul is notorious for giving people the “thumbs-up” gesture. Do you do this, too?
(Laugh) I do several gestures in the show that Paul does; it’s all part of the character. -TK
After all this time of playing Paul McCartney’s music, what insight do you now have about his songwriting? What is it about his music that connects with people?
I think now after so many years of portraying him and singing like him, I understand that his music really hits home with the average person. He sings about love and situations that are very human. He is a realist, and there is nothing silly about him. -TK
Finally, what’s next for Tony Kishman after this tour wraps up?
I am in four shows: Live And Let Die, Twist And Shout, Classical Mystery Tour and All You Need Is Love. I have an endless schedule. When I was doing a show in London, George Martin came backstage. I asked him, “Why would you come see me?” He said that he brought his kids [to the show] to see what the Beatles were like, because they will never be on stage together again. I asked, “Do you think I could do some recording with you?” He said that I sound too much like Paul. I figured that if George Martin said I sound like Paul, then I better keep performing. -TK
Tony Kishman and The Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra will present Live And Let Die – A Symphonic Tribute to The Music of Paul McCartney on Friday, Oct. 18, at 8 p.m. in the Schuster Center’s Mead Theatre, 1 W. Second St. Ticket prices: $27 to $79. For tickets, please call 937.228.3630 or visit daytonperformingarts.org. For more information about Tony Kishman, please visit liveandletdieshow.com.