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Sunday, March 08, 2015

Let It Be: theatre review

We didn't know what to expect from the fairly new production of "Let It Be" at the Garrick Theatre in London. It hasn't had much publicity.  There were no posters in the underground.

"Sore misgivings," muttered J. But, as I predicted, The Beatles don't need publicity. The theatre was full. The demographic was strictly grey haired, except for the young couple next to us (and me, of course).

The usual announcement at the start, about mobile phones and recording the performance, was turned on its head when we were invited to take photos and videos. How refreshing.

The show is basically The Beatles' hits, performed by an excellent bootleg band. The first half shows footage on overhead screens of the adulation the band inspired - screaming girls aplenty - and the songs seemed chronological.  To start with, my heart sank when I thought the band didn't look anything like the Fab Four. We started off in The Cavern for a few of the early screamers  (Twist and Shout, Please Please Me).  Then after some deft rearrangements, we were at the Royal Variety Performance. The "those in the posh seats, rattle your jewellery" performance.  And amazingly, the acoustics changed. I don't know how they did that.

By now the band was in its stride, we had seen several costume changes, and Sgt Pepper's elaborate arrangements brought out the best in these talented musicians. "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and "Strawberry Fields" were very surreal with waxy lights and haziness and dry ice. Having aged in the process, the band was looking more like the Beatles. "Paul" in particular had a real touch of the McCartneys in his vocals. His delivery of Yesterday, with just an acoustic guitar, was moving.  John too, by the time he had donned outlandish clothes and glasses, and was seated behind a piano, looked uncannily like Lennon.

George, however, could never pass as the late Harrison. But did it matter, with such fantastic guitar playing? This was showcased in "While my Guitar Gently Weeps."

During the interval, I reckoned that Magical Mystery Tour and Abbey Road were next. But no, the chronological order somewhat fell by the wayside when Magical Mystery Tour was followed by Penny Lane.

The second half lacked the story telling and there was no mention of the end of the group, which came about after the famous rooftop performance of Let It Be.

But the songs! Sublime. And the dancing. Such fun!

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