Gig review: BOOTLEG BEATLES – Royal Albert Hall, 1 June 2017

BOOTLEG BEATLES - Royal Albert Hall, 1 June 2017

The Bootleg Beatles were performing tonight with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra to celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the most iconic albums of all time, ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’. The sold out Royal Albert Hall providing a suitably grandiose setting for the evening.

The poet Roger McGough started the evening off with a potted history of the Beatles and their musical influences which led up to the making of the album. Of course Roger McGough is no stranger himself to the pop charts having been a member of the Scaffold (who also featured Paul McCartney’s brother Mike in their ranks). He had an easy storytelling style adding in a few one liners and some of his poetry.

Having a full orchestra was a master stroke as they played a series of snippets from songs that influenced the Beatles. After this the Bootleg Beatles took to the stage, each one dressed as the Beatles appeared on the album cover. Strange to think that for such a classic album the original band never performed it live.

Each member of the Bootleg Beatles played their part well with John (Adam Hastings) cracking jokes throughout the set and Ringo (Gordon Elmore) a man of few words. He did manage to draw Thomas the Tank engine during the course of the evening ; -) Paul (Steve White) was all smiles and waves throughout the show, whilst George (Stephen Hill) got into the full role when he played sitar.

Playing the album in its original sequence  (with an interval once side one had been completed), highlights were many, but the real ‘goosebumps’ moment was ‘A Day In The Life’ where the rising crescendo of the orchestra to the song’s climax was stunning. The band were having so much fun, as was the audience singing along to ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’, a rousing ‘Getting Better’ and ‘When I Am 64′ – an age much of the night’s audience had already passed but they still knew how to enjoy themselves.

After playing the album we had the double A side of ‘Strawberry Fields’ and ‘Penny Lane’ (originally intended for release on the ‘Sergeant Pepper’ album), wonderfully played by the band and orchestra.

They finished off the set with ‘Baby, You’re A Rich Man’, which John jokingly dedicated their manager Brian Epstein (the band stayed in character both in person and in pretending it was 1967 all over again). Then we had songs from ‘Magical Mystery Tour’ album with a wonderful ‘Fool On The Hill’ and another crowd pleaser ‘Hello, Goodbye’.

Closing with an encore of ‘All You Need Is Love’ had the whole audience on its feet singing and dancing along. It had a feel of the Last Night of the Proms about it. What a great finale to an evening celebrating the music of the Beatles, in particular ‘Sergeant Pepper’, and their musical legacy.

Review by Jason Ritchie

The Best of 2017

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