“That Madison Square Gardens gig was the best music I enjoyed playing since the Cavern or even Hamburg… It was just the same kinda feeling when The Beatles used to really get into it”
– John Lennon
John Lennon Live in New York City 1972
Two concerts took place, in the afternoon and evening of 30 August 1972 . John Lennon Live In New York City was released simultaneously as an album and video in 1986, with different performances from the two shows on each.
The Concerts were held to raise money for children with mental challenges at friend Geraldo Rivera’s request. Rivera introduces Lennon and Ono at the beginning of the album, and he is referenced in Lennon’s impromptu revised lyrics in the opening song, “New York City.”
The benefit concerts, billed as One to One, also featured other performers in addition to Lennon, including Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack, Melanie Safka and Sha-Na-Na, although their performances are not included on this album, nor on the simultaneous video release.
Live in New York City captures John Lennon’s last full-length concert performance, coming right after the release of Some Time in New York City, which was a commercial failure in the United States. Perhaps as a result, Lennon’s stage talk, while humorous, is self-deprecating and slightly nervous in tone. Backing Lennon and Ono were Elephant’s Memory, who had served as Lennon and Ono’s backing band on Some Time in New York City. Although the material Lennon performed was largely drawn from his three most recent albums of the period (John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Imagine and Some Time in New York City), he also included in the set list his Beatles hit “Come Together” and paid tribute to Elvis Presley with “Hound Dog” before leading the audience in a sing along of “Give Peace a Chance”. “Come Together”, originally in the key of D minor, was performed in E minor.