Festival Theatre, Sun 2 Aug
The Beatles changed the world, with a lot of help from their friends. And incredibly they did it all in just eight short years between 1962 and 1970. Rubber Soul (1965) and Revolver (1966) represented a departure into more sophisticated realms of pop and rock music for The Beatles, and they both rank in the Top 5 of Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Albums Of All Time. It’s fitting then that these two albums get this memorial treatment from a 17-piece band that includes four contemporary vocalists who have all enjoyed success in their own right.
I’ve learned in recent years that bands formed for such tribute concerts can be as good as well known bands with an established name, and this was no exception. But, really, the stars of this marvellous show are the songs. As I sat listening to song after great song I realised that I had almost never heard Beatles music in concert – it had mostly been on records or in lounge room singalongs. And what a treat it was. The evidence is again overwhelming – Lennon and McCartney were superb songwriters. Infectious rhythms, knock-out melodic hooks, and precious harmonies abound.
The four featured singers, Jordie Lane, Fergus Linacre, Marlon Williams and Husky Gawenda all did a fine job taking turns on lead vocals. I enjoyed their authentic treatment of Beatles’ classics. They didn’t try and sound like them – they sang their way and so were in a sense interpreting the songs – while the instrumental arrangements stayed close to the originals. This combination of interpretation and faithful rendition mostly worked really well.
The audience loved Marlon Williams’ treatment of Eleanor Rigby, and Husky Gawenda ably showcased the wistful beauty of the McCartney ballads (Girl, For No One), but the real vocal highlights came when they all sang together (Drive My Car, Taxman, I Want To Tell You).
The George Harrison influence shone though on the songs influenced by his foray into eastern music. As weird as it was to see sitar played on a guitar (anything is possible these days), it sounded great. I had forgotten that Norwegian Wood featured sitar, and the two sitar based pieces from Revolver (Love You To, Tomorrow Never Knows) were wonderful.
The cheeky aberration that is Yellow Submarine demanded the obligatory singalong for those who wanted to, and a few bonus numbers included the beautiful melody and timeless message of We Can Work It Out.
And then there was Nowhere Man (what a great song this is!), Good Day Sunshine, Got To Get You Into My Life. And more. Three minute masterpieces that were just so much fun to hear live. Fantastic to know, too, that a new generation of musicians can reproduce these songs with such class. I now look forward to hearing more of their own work.
Image courtesy of Earl Carter