Festival Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, Fri 5 Feb
A Festival Theatre full house warmly greets the members of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra as the lights dim and a concert showcasing the music of The Beatles begins. Conducted by Nicholas Buc, the orchestra performs a beautiful overture that immediately captures the attention of the expectant audience.
All You Need Is Love has promised the delivery of “30 breathtaking Beatles masterpieces” and boasts the vocal talents of a quartet comprising Jack Jones (Southern Sons), Ciaran Gribbin (INXS), Darren Percival (The Voice Australia 2012) and Jackson Thomas (The Voice Australia 2014). Augmenting the sound of the orchestra is a rock ensemble that features some wonderful players who collectively possess a great pedigree in Australian music.
Gribbin is the first to take the lead vocal role as the up-tempo Got To Get You Into My Life gets feet-tapping. It’s an impressive opening and the quality continues as each of the four singers takes centre-stage to present songs from (mainly) The Beatles’ middle-period canon. The crowd are spirited away to the whimsical and sometimes wistful world of Eleanor Rigby, I Am The Walrus, Strawberry Fields Forever, The Fool On The Hill and Penny Lane. It’s heady stuff and, for the Beatles aficionado, it might seem a big ask. There are no worries here though, the orchestral parts are beautifully executed, the vocals interpretations are handled well, and the band is nothing short of brilliant, with the musicians applying craft, skill and respect for the work in equal measure. The guitar solo crescendo of The End is a perfect example.
The classics keep on coming and there’s the odd surprise selection to keep things interesting, like Good Morning Good Morning, sung by Percival. The first half of the show passes in what seems like little more than a heartbeat.
The second half of the show continues to deliver what folks have come to see and hear. The vocalists open up a little and chat with the audience, Jack Jones shows off his guitarist chops with his take on I Want You (She’s So Heavy), and pianist Paul Gray – the man “in charge” of the rock band element – takes over the lead vocal duties on Lady Madonna.
There’s no video or large screen projections; this is a concert where the music and the performers stand on their own merits, and it is fair to say that those that have come out for the show have been given almost exactly what they were seeking.
The evening climaxes with the singalong good times of Yellow Submarine, All You Need Is Love and, finally, Hey Jude. Just about everyone is standing, singing and clapping, a sure sign that the show has been a success.
Apart from the technical excellence of the arrangements and the performance, this concert demonstrates in spades that the music of The Beatles will endure, long after the world has lost the intimate knowledge of that band’s day-to-day goings on. This is music that will one day stand alongside the works of the world’s major composers. That’s if it doesn’t already…