A Fab tribute: Tony Kishman, ASO, join for Paul McCartney show
Tony Kishman has a job to do. He does it well and gives the other Paul McCartney impersonators hell.
Kishman’s “Live And Let Die: A Symphonic Tribute to the Music of Paul McCartney” lands at 7:30 p.m. July 21, Miller Symphony Hall, Allentown, and many Beatle and McCartney fans have got to get him into their life because he’s considered one of the best replicas around.
The concert is the first in the 2018-19 Allentown Symphony Orchestra Pops Series.
“Some nights I could be inclined to sit back and take it easy,” Kishman notes in a phone interview. “But I don’t. Everyone is looking at every move you make.”
The challenge invigorates the mop-topped and droopy-eyed Kishman, who will present many of Sir Paul’s tunes backed with a talented band and a rosin-and-bow salute from the Allentown Symphony Orchestra, under guest conductor Martin Herman.
“Live and Let Die” features a four-piece band led by Kishman, vocals, bass, guitar, piano, performing hit songs from McCartney’s Fab Four Beatles’ days; his band, Wings, and solo career, including “Hey Jude,” “Penny Lane,” “Live and Let Die,” “Yesterday,” “My Love,” “Uncle Albert,” “Let It Be,” “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Hello, Goodbye,” “Long and Winding Road,” “Silly Love Songs” and “Jet.”
“We’re going to try to jam 50 years into a few hours,” Kishman says of the show.
The set list includes “Band On The Run,” “Eleanor Rigby,” “Golden Slumbers,” “Got To Get You Into My Life,” “Here Today,” “Listen To What The Man Said,” “Martha My Dear,” “My Love,” “My Valentine,” “No More Lonely Nights,” “Rockestra Theme,” “Something,” “Venus And Mars-Rock Show” and “Yellow Submarine.”
Kishman first saw his musical idol live on the 1979 Wings’ tour. For Kishman, part of McCartney’s genius is his ability to create incredible and unique melodies that transform otherwise simple three- or four-chord songs into something remarkable.
“Practically every melody is different,” says Kishman. “What he is able to do with his melodies and what he does with his voice blows your mind. ... No one has reached the level of success that he has. He’s the single greatest songwriter of all-time.”
Kishman is creator and band leader of “Live And Let Die,” which is a multimedia concert. The band includes J.D. Leonard, rhythm guitar, bass, piano, vocals; Chris Holt, rhythm guitar, keyboards, bass, vocals, and Brad Swiger, drums.
Playing McCartney for nearly four decades was something Kishman evolved into. He paid his musical dues with “four or five sets a night in smoky bars playing classic rock staples” from bands such as Aerosmith and Bad Company in the Tucson, Ariz., area.
He was encouraged to perform McCartney songs after an audience member told to follow that vibe.
That compliment started him on his McCartney-playing career, leading him to appear for six years (1977-83) in the national and international tours of the Broadway hit “Beatlemania” and worldwide tours of Twist and Shout, a Beatles tribute band, “Classical Mystery Tour,” an international symphonic Beatles’ tribute production.
Herman, guest ASO conductor for the Allentown concert, is music director and arranger for “Classical Mystery Tour” in recent performances with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, Detroit Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Long Beach Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, San Diego Symphony, and Florida Orchestra.
Kishman also sang and played bass for Wishbone Ash (1994-97), performing on the group’s “Illuminations” and “Live In Geneva” albums. Kishman recorded his own music for RCA and Mercury Records.
Over time, he was coached on how to perfect his vocals to sound just like the musical legend “without having any vocal trouble.”
The Kishman kudos have been impressive:
“Tony Kishman sounds like Paul McCartney,” said George Martin, Beatles producer.
“Tony Kishman is a great musician,” said Paul McCartney.
“If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, Kishman’s is the highest of compliments. In addition to sounding alike, he looks like him and plays a Höfner hollow-body electric bass,” stated Rob Laney, Theater Jones, Fort Worth, Texas.
Kishman is endorsed by Hofner for the brand of bass that McCartney and he play.
Kishman’s ability to provide strong and clean vocals in the higher octaves makes him stand out among McCartney clones. It also allows him to “dig deeper” into the legend’s catalog and perform “some more sophisticated numbers” others might not touch.
Some of those include a fierce version of “Got to Get You Into My Life,” off The Beatles’ 1966 “Revolver” album; “Uncle Albert-Admiral Halsey” and “Silly Love Songs,” from McCartney’s Wings’ days, and “Live and Let Die” from the 1973 James Bond film.
While Kishman has his favorite Beatles’ album (“Let It Be”) and McCartney solo issue (“Ram”), he appreciates all the McCartney material and the opportunity he has to bring musical enjoyment to fans with his band on the run.
“I just love doing this, I’m very lucky.”
Tickets: Miller Symphony Hall box office, 23 N. Sixth St., Allentown; allentownsymphony.org; 610-432-6715