Imagine John, Paul, George and Ringo back on stage again, recalling the heady days of Beatlemania. It’s easy if you try …
Actually, no it’s not; the Fab Four will never stand side by side again, belting out the classics which are branded on the psyche of all music lovers. There will never be a reunion concert, so all that remains are the memories.
Memories that were brought magically back to life at The Kings last night as the Beatles musical Let It Be started a five-night run.
There was surely something for everyone in this two-part, two-hour romp through some of the greatest (THE greatest?) songs in pop history.
Part one featured four key moments in time – the band’s appearance on the 1963 Queen’s Royal Variety Performance bill when John Lennon cheekily quipped: ‘The people in the cheaper seats, clap your hands. And the rest of you (meaning those in the Royal Box), if you’d just rattle your jewellery’; the iconic 1965 concert at New York’s Shea Stadium – where screaming female fans reached levels of mass hysteria; the psychedelic era of Sergeant Pepper’s; and the long-hair phase featuring Eastern-influenced work.
Adding to the enjoyment of the music were four television screens showing key moments from the 1960s – England winning the World Cup – interspersed with wonderfully evocative adverts for products as diverse as soap, Capstan cigarettes and Milk Tray.
The curtain raised on the second half of the show with tabloid front pages from 1967 reporting the death of band manager Brian Epstein. A voice-over solemnly declared: ‘Many think this was the beginning of the end.’
‘Just imagine,’ the audience were asked as the screens showed more screaming headlines regarding the band subsequently splitting up, ‘if the Beatles did get back together for one last concert. Imagine it was on John Lennon’s birthday in October 1980 and the band played a selection of their old songs and the best of their solo material.
It was an unexpected twist, but one I enjoyed immensely – the likes of Band on the Run and Live and Let Die (Paul), My Sweet Lord and Got My Mind Set On You (George) and Just Like Starting Over and Imagine (John) all getting the crowd singing along. The irony of the audience being asked to turn their mobile phones to torch mode and wave them above their heads while singing ‘imagine no possessions’ was not lost on me...
A set closer saw a stunning rendition of While My Guitar Gently Weeps followed by an encore which, inevitably, ended with Hey Jude and the Kings filled with a succession of ‘nah nah nah nahs’ to close a highly impressive nostalgia-fest that I highly recommend.
Full credit, therefore, to Emanuele Angeletti (Paul), Richard Jordan (John), John Brosnan (George) and Ben Cullingworth (Ringo) as well as ‘the fifth Beatle’, musical director Michael Bramwell (keyboards). They were tight, vocally and musically spot on, charismatic and possessing more than a passing resemblance to those they were impersonating so well.
An enthusiastic crowd lapped it all up. Of course, they knew all the words to all the songs – which music fan doesn’t?
And the timeless beauty of John’s lyrics in Imagine will never fade so long as events like the Easter Sunday bombings in Sri Lanka continue.
‘Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too. Imagine all the people, living life in peace.’
Followed by: ‘You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.’
He was speaking words of wisdom, certainly.
Let it Be.
Until April 27.