Let It Be, Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool, Until November 14
More concert than musical, this show celebrates the music of The Beatles, Britain’s most iconic band who, in decades to come, will probably be up there with Shakespeare and the Brontes as major figures in the country’s cultural heritage.
There are numerous Beatles tribute bands all over the world.
One of the best is Merseyside’s own Bootles who, some years ago, did a tour of clubs and small theatres recounting The Beatles Story between numbers, with changes of costume and slides of events.
This is the same idea but in a different league with a production on a far grander scale and perfect to celebrate the impressive new frontage of the Royal Court Theatre.
The show opened with a stunning backdrop of The Cavern as the group launched into a set of early Beatles numbers.
Next came the London Palladium (‘rattle your jewellery’) followed by America’s Shea Stadium; psychedelic settings for Sergeant Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour; films of outdoor concerts for the Summer of Love (1967) and, finally, Abbey Road’s zebra crossing.
The four members of ‘Let It Be’ were recruited especially for this show.
Paul Canning played John, who did most of the talking, and Emanuele Angeletti was Paul, despite playing his guitar right handed.
Liverpool’s Paul Mannion as George brought great applause for his virtuoso solo in ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ while Luke Roberts pounded his drums more like Dave Clark from the Dave Clark Five than Ringo.
Michael Bramwell on synthesiser sublimely augmented the sound on chosen numbers.
The overall effect was enhanced by giant TV screens showing adverts and news clips from the 60s and 70s plus spectacular lighting effects in the theatre.
The singing and playing of the boys in the band was as good as The Bootles and they had the advantage of bearing more than a passing resemblance to The Beatles as they changed from mop-tops to moustached, long-haired hippies.
The first half was the best, the earlier numbers comprising most of the hit singles, being livelier and catchier than some of the psychedelic stuff after the interval with the long rock guitar breaks and more reflective songs. But that is a matter of taste.
Needless to say, this being Liverpool, the packed audience lapped it up, whooping, clapping and cheering from the very first song until the evening finished with the whole auditorium swaying to the na-na-nas of ‘Hey Jude’.
What a shame The Beatles never gave this concert in their home town but this was surely the next best thing.