She may have turned 80 in February but Yoko Ono is still capable of turning heads and minds. Not looking a day over 60, as mentally sharp as ever, Ono has transcended age. She opened Meltdown 2013 (which she’s curating) with a blistering, thrilling, cutting-edge music-as-art set, which not so much pushed boundaries as ignored them. Like some cocksure 70-year-old kid, she even had the chutzpah to begin with the new Moonbeams, which started as rumination and finished in a frenzied, freeform barrage of transfixing noise.
How times change. Once reviled, she’s now an international treasure and the world has finally caught up with the music of Ono and her seven-strong Plastic Ono Band which included her son Sean Ono Lennon (“what are we gonna play next, mum?”) and, in the Linda McCartney role, Lennon’s girlfriend, Charlotte Kemp Muhl.
To the delight of a crowd who were already pleased, she gave her only hit, Walking On Thin Ice, a swish reggaefied backbeat; duetted with Peaches on Yes I’m A Witch and unleashed the hounds on a coruscating Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow). More coquettish than she was in her 20s, Ono showed some groovy moves when the mood took her and informed us, perhaps improbably, that “I feel I know you”.
Almost wordless but still saying much, Moving Mountains and Calling saw Ono embrace dream-like beauty, refusing to compromise and bleating like a sheep. At the end, audience members stampeded from the gods to dance to the seemingly undanceable. An extraordinary performance by any standards: for a woman in her ninth decade, almost unbelievable.