*I received two tickets in exchange for a review
It’s difficult to explain my Beatles obsession. It crept up on me last year where out of nowhere I started to watch everything about them. I’m planning another trip to Liverpool to visit the places I didn’t get to in December (Strawberry Fields has reopened since then too). I’m trying to be aware when I’ve gone down the rabbit hole watching Youtube videos and pouring over the Anthology for the hundreth time.
So when I get the chance to hear their music in any form I jump, especially if there’s a tribute band backed by a top class orchestra, in this case the National Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. I didn’t have particularly high expectations beforehand but all I can say is that I was blown away by the whole experience. The rapport between the band (Luke Roberts as Ringo, Emmanuel Angeletti as Paul, John Brosnan as George and Paul Canning as John Lennon) was immediate and kept making me laugh as it was so like what I was used to watching in videos. Paul Canning was definitely channelling his inner John – his mannerisms, witty comments and body language was completely spot on.
They kicked off proceedings in the right way by going straight into All You Need Is Love (there were some great solos by the brass section) before taking the audience on a two hour romp through over forty hits. Act One included a really eclectic mix of tracks, from bouncy Penny Lane to trippy Tomorrow Never Knows. The music was accompanied by an ever-changing multi-media screen, which was used to great effect with songs like Martha My Dear (showing Paul McCartney’s beloved sheepdog) and Strawberry Fields Forever. I loved looking around and seeing everyone sing along to Let It Be and I Am The Walrus.
After the break the band came back out in full Sergeant Pepper outfits which audibly delighted the crowd , and launched into A Little Help From My Friends, followed by Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Being For The Benefit Of Mr Kite!, Hello Goodbye and She’s Leaving Home before another costume change in readiness for the India/mediation phase (their most productive period musically). They came back on dressed in loose white shirts and the screen showed images of Rikikesh where they visited the Maharishi in 1968. I was personally happy because I love the Indian-inspired sound, and we were treated to Across The Universe before older tracks such as Norwegian Wood the other tracks written in ’68 such as Whilst My Guitar Gently Weeps (showing of John/George’s guitar skills), Ob Li Di, Ob Li Da and Come Together.
Everyone was reminded of the brilliance of Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End (Emmanuel as Paul was amazing on piano at this point) before Luke/Ringo brought the house down with Yellow Submarine, and Paul/John did such an amazing job of ‘Imagine’ I was in tears. The encore included some earlier tracks from the beginning of Beatlemania (I Saw Her Standing There) and I desperately wanted to and fangirl down the front but I restrained myself somehow. I really can’t get across how good the whole show was and if it tours again I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it as a great way to turn off, tune in and drop out of the stress of every day life.