IN just a decade between 1960 when the Silver Beatles became The Beatles and 1970 when with Paul McCartney and John Lennon went their separate ways, four raw young men from Liverpool turned the pop world upside down and inside out, establishing a musical legacy that still has millions of followers today.
Quite a few of those fans, ranging in age from teenagers to veterans, found their way into the Theatre Royal for this show whose one aim is to recreate the sights and sounds that made this band a worldwide phenomenon.
It is hardly a lavish production, with four singing musicians, Emanuele Angeletti, John Brosnan, Ben Cullingworth and Paul Mannion, adapting the changing appearances and musical and vocal styles of Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Star and John Lennon on plain curtained stage as if giving a concert of their biggest hits, backed on occasion by MD Michael Bramwell on piano.
Elaborate lighting and two giant TV screens high up either side of the stage showing images ranging from the screaming fans at the group’s first big USA open-air concert, to 1960s icons and fashions and psychedelic pictures befitting of the Flower Power generation on screen, helped to create a 60s atmosphere. Throughout the first half of the show those TV pictures and odd snippets of information acted as links between 19 of the long list of hits written and composed by Lennon and McCartney.
With the four performers adapting not only the look, but movement and stance of the originals. visually you could have been at an Beatles concert. Original arrangements also helped the cause, only occasionally did a number not sound quite right, that distinct Lennon or McCartney vocal sound not fitting into the visual image before you. Classic’s like Penny Lane and When I’m 64 hit the bullseye dead centre, the audience needing no second invitation to sing the lyrics as loudly as those on stage.
The second half of the show, which included 19 more numbers taken from the period after the group disbanded, was presented in the form of an imaginary reunion Beatles concert, something often mooted but never to take place. Fewer immediately recognisable numbers among this part of the programme, but a chance to hear My Sweet Lord and the theme song from the James Bond film Live and Let Die.
Then it was back to Let it Be, the last song recorded by the group before they broke up, and old favourite Hey Jude that ensured that the Fab Four left the stage with the audience on their feet swaying and singing.