Governor Hindmarsh Hotel, Tue 11 Jun.
It’s an increasingly common occurrence; yet another incarnation of The Fab Four is visiting Adelaide, this time presenting a celebration of the classic Abbey Road album to a keen, if a little modest, crowd. After a fairly cheesy (but just about tolerable) off-stage introduction, The Mersey Beatles appear, dressed in “later period” costume. It takes a moment for the memories to align with tonight’s visual display, but once the music starts everything is right with the world.
It’s a pretty tough ask; performing one of the greatest albums in rock history in a live setting, but the band does a terrific job in the main. Musically, there is plenty to like. It would be curmudgeonly to make a point about missing or wavering notes when considering the overall effort involved. Polythene Pam sounds quite different, possibly due to John’s guitar signal failing, but the rest is all there. George’s guitar work is spot on, and the vocals are largely excellent. The second side of the album, featuring the mini rock opera that begins with Because, is brilliantly executed. A fifth Mersey Beatle, Tony Cook, augments the sound with some adept keyboard work.
After a short break, the band reappears, having turned back the clock to sometime around 1964, and plays a concert that captures the intoxicating tunes that made Beatlemania what it was. The crowd is up and dancing, the singalong begins with Love Me Do and doesn’t really stop; it appears that something bordering on the magical has happened. The band swaps banter with audience members, and the hits just keep on coming. There’s no harmonica in Please Please Me, and Help! sounds a little hurried, but these are minor quibbles. From The Beatles’ first Parlophone single, right up to a track from Revolver, this is a smorgasbord to be feasted upon. Throughout the evening, all four have done their best to look the part and it’s been a successful exercise. Ringo’s swishing across the cymbals, the guitar placements and stances all help to create the illusion, right-handed Paul notwithstanding. He tells us that they’ll be back next year, and the concert concludes with a brief encore featuring I Saw Her Standing There.
Suspension of disbelief is a key component in shows such as this and, especially for the second set, the audience appears to have been completely immersed in the experience. Long may it continue.
Image courtesy of David Robinson