Tag Archives: The Beatles

REVIEW: Let It Be – SEC Armadillo, Glasgow

2019 marks 50 years since The Beatles walked over that famous crossing on Abbey Road, 50 years since they played on the roof of the Apple Corps. building on Savile Row and 49 years since they released their last album. Seen by over two million people worldwide, Let It Be, continue their celebration of the music of The Beatles with a brand-new show for 2019.

The revamped show is split into two halves: the first a potted history of the Fab Four, starting from the famous Royal Variety Performance in 1963, through Shea Stadium to Sgt. Pepper and beyond. The second, is set a decade after The Beatles went their separate ways. It’s the 9th of October 1980, John Lennon’s 40th birthday, the band reunite for one night only for “the ultimate concert that never was”. Here we get a chance to hear some of the hits from each Beatles’ solo careers.

Let It Be is the Rolls Royce of Beatles celebration acts and the quality of the musicianship is outstanding. Emanuele Angeletti (Paul McCartney), John Brosnan, Ben Cullingworth (Ringo Starr) and Richard Jordan (John Lennon), go beyond simple impersonation. To the ear, this is as close as you are going to get to the real thing. Every specific tone and intonation of each man is captured in impressive detail.

While fans of the original show may wish to see something a bit different from the usual history and greatest hits of The Beatles, it is understandable that after seven years the performers and producers might want to shake things up a bit. This production is very much a show of two halves and while the quality of the vocals and musicianship never dips, the choice of songs in the second half mean that there’s a distinct shift in atmosphere. The joyous celebration of The Beatles early years is replaced by some more sombre moments from their later careers. That said, the whole evening ends on a high and with the audience on their feet, a series of Fab Four classics sending the crowd out into the rainy night with these musical masterpieces ringing in their ears.  Well worth catching if you can.

Review originally written for THE REVIEWS HUB | Image: Anthony Robling

 

REVIEW: A Life With The Beatles – EK Arts Centre

Entering to the strains of Billy J. Kramer’s version of Lennon & McCartney’s Do You Want to Know a Secret; actor Ian Sexon takes the audience on a blisteringly paced account of the life of Neil Aspinall. A man at the very heart of The Beatles’ story, a man who shared their brightest and darkest moments, a man, who, unlike almost everyone else associated with the group, took his secrets to the grave.

Aspinall went from school pal of Paul McCartney and George Harrison to trainee accountant to first ever roadie, driving his beat-up Commer van the length of the country, to CEO of Apple Corps, The Beatles’ global business conglomerate. Notably,  in helping to sustain The Beatles’ legacy, it was Aspinall who masterminded the creation of the world-wide, best-selling, Beatles Anthology documentary, three-volume double album and book.

Davide Verazzani’s A Life With The Beatles seeks to shed light on some of the most famous moments in the band’s history, most notably, the ground-breaking and quite frankly, bizarre, making of Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Verazzani’s writing grips from start to end, while you may think you know everything about The Beatles, there’s enough insight here to surprise even the most die-hard fan. There’s a perfect blend of emotive drama and clever humour. Sexon is a natural storyteller, and his performance in this one-hander is a tour de force, with only four suitcases, a smattering of props and some simple back projections, he has a hypnotic hold over the audience throughout.

This 60-minute show is a little belter, proving that sometimes smallest is best.

This review was originally written for The Reviews Hub

Image: Gary Daniell

REVIEW: Beatlemania – The Pavilion, Glasgow

It is over fifty years since The Beatles released their debut album “Please Please Me” and Beatlemania is still very much alive and well and filling theatres and concert halls up and down the country.

Beatlemania is also the name of the well-established tribute act playing to the packed house at Glasgow’s Pavilion Theatre.

A musical love letter to the Fab Four, it follows a format now familiar: an ‘in character’ concert from the sharp-suited early days to the final Apple years. Rip-roaring through the back catalogue of the worlds greatest ever band.

The engaging quartet are without doubt talented musicians, particularly worthy of note is the drumming of Dave Gee as Ringo and the nifty playing by guitarist Rich Jevons as George. The pairing of Paul McDonough and David Peterson as Lennon and McCartney are competent if a little vertically challenged and in McCartney’s case, a little more substantial in girth, but the pair provide a little between-song banter to amuse the crowd. There’s also an attractive light show throughout. Of note the band don’t utilise projection screens to set the scene for each era as most of their contemporaries do.

But it’s the songs the audience is here for. Those age-defying, generation-busting classics – and every one really is a winner. It’s hard to whittle The Beatles vast back catalogue down to a 2 hour set, but the choices here cover the biggest and best, much to the delight of the crowd who sang, clapped and attempted to dance* their way throughout.

It did lack that certain sharp edge to the sound and electrifying immediacy that the very best Beatle acts achieve, though this could be down to the acoustics of the auditorium or the sound mixing on the night, but this is a hugely enjoyable evening and hearing the first chord of these much-loved tunes is enough to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. Well worth the ticket price visit if they’re visiting your town. A great night of nostalgia.

*On a side-note and no reflection on the highly talented musicianship onstage, were the antics of the Pavilion crowd. Not unlike an episode of Off Their Rockers or You’ve Been Framed, it was definitely Pensioners Behaving Badly; the frisky Friday night audience of advancing years provided some entertaining highlights of their own.

There were the dance rebels, who, disgusted at the staff’s zero-tolerance policy on boogieing led a rebellion in the aisles and vociferously voiced their dismay to the band at any quiet moment. After most of the boppers had been calmed by the staff, the lone rebel, committed to showing his defiance, managed to cuff a fellow audience member on the back of the head during one particularly I’ll-advised move, only to be rewarded by the injured party with a punch in the face.

Joining them were the strategic bar queue manoeuvrers who had the psychic ability to calculate when the interval was coming and stage a mass walk out to get to the head of the line as the band were still giving their all onstage.

There also appeared to be little awareness from some that the were not actually in their own living rooms and some chatted incessantly throughout. Thankfully the volume level of the band managed to drown out the majority of it.

REVIEW: Them Beatles – Rutherglen Town Hall, Rutherglen @ThemBeatles

The apparently insatiable appetite for all things Beatles remains undiminished as the years go by. Them Beatles, based in Scotland, are one of the UK’s best Beatles tribute acts, and arrive in Rutherglen as part of the venue’s 10 Years, 10 Shows, 10 Days celebration.

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It’s a crowd-pleasing set but with some (pleasantly) surprising choices from the Fab Four’s vast back catalogue and the four musicians are undisputedly masters of their craft; multi-instrumentalists with engaging personalities there’s entertaining (in character) chat as well as the faithfully executed songs to enjoy.

To enhance the experience, projected screens are used in the transitions between eras; there’s the early Mop Top years, through the psychedelia of Sgt.Pepper to the Apple years all complete with costume and wig changes.

This is as good as it gets for any Beatles fan – a fabulous night that will send you back home with a spring in your step and a song in your heart.

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REVIEW: Backbeat – Duke of York’s Theatre, London

This was one of those times when on the spur of the moment you decide to do something and it ends up being a wonderful surprise.

With weary legs on day two of my London sprint I decided to abandon my previous plans when I saw the TKTS booth in Leicester Square. It supplies on the day cut-price theatre tickets. So with an hour to showtime I saw this on the board and got a seat in the middle of the fourth row of the stalls for a bargain £20 – a third of the full price.

This is no jukebox musical – for the good of the West End it really doesn’t need one. For a start it has been written with care and finesse. It’s an intelligent, multi-layered and ultimately heart-breaking story, an adaptation by Iain Softley and Stephen Jeffreys, of Softley’s 1994 film of the same name. It is more of a play with music than a traditional musical. The transition from film to stage works well here.

It’s an account of the Beatles‘ early days in Hamburg and Liverpool and the“lost” Beatle, Stuart Sutcliffe. The epitome of cool, Sutcliffe was John Lennon‘s art-school buddy and a gifted young painter who abandoned the group for art and the love of Astrid Kirchherr, the photographer who took some famous moody shots of the band and originally styled their mop-headed, collarless look. Sutcliffe died aged 21 of a brain haemorrhage, just as the Beatles were on the brink of success.

The actors can certainly knock out a tune and the showhas no problem in evoking an impression of the Beatles’ raw musical potential. They are excellent musicians as well as actors and tear into such period classics as “Johnny B Goode” and “Good Golly Miss Molly” with a brilliant ear-splitting joy.

The throbbing music leads to the inevitable dancing in the aisles, but this show is much more than that. This is an atmospheric, thoughtful production. It’s about love, in particular the love between Andrew Knott’s smart-mouthed, antagonistic Lennon, who claims that all art is “dick”, and Nick Blood’s charismatic Stuart, who sees the band as a sideline and is forced to make the choice about who he should be with and what he should do with his life.

I urge you to go and see this if you can – it is joyous, uplifting, funny, beautifully acted and will bring a tear to your eye. What more could you want?? I can’t recommend it highly enough.