On Saturday night, I finally saw The Bootleg Beatles in concert. And my, it was unbelievably wonderful!
The flyer read:
The world's first and finest tribute band, The Bootleg Beatles, continue to thrill audiences with their performing of their acclaimed homage to the Fab Four.
Neil Harrison (former John Lennon); Andre Barreau (George Harrison); and David Catlin-Birch (Paul McCartney) met in 1979 when they were all cast in the hit West-End production, Beatlemania. When the show finished its run the band, knowing the repertoire inside out, decided to continue performing it and thus The Bootleg Beatles were born in 1980, along with the entire tribute genre.
What started as four musicians with black polo necks and a wig has evolved into The Bootleg Beatles' lauded show which combines note perfect renditions of Beatles repertoire, spectacular costume changes and a visually stunning video backdrop. The Bootleg Beatles faithfully re-create 6 phases of the Beatles' rise from a basement (The Cavern in Liverpool) to a rooftop (The famous Apple concert in 1969) via Shea Stadium, Sgt. Pepper's and the Magical Mystery Tour.
After 31 years portraying John in The Bootleg Beatles, Neil Harrison announced his intention to retire from performing in January 2011. Following an intensive audition process and much more media speculation, in Jul 2011 The Bootleg Beatles announced Adam Hastings would don the wigs and glasses in the band. His debut performances with The Bootleg Beatles have been met with rave reviews from fans and critics alike!
Adam Hastings (John Lennon) - guitar, vocals, keyboards
David Catlin-Birch (Paul McCartney) - bass, vocals
Andre Barreau (George Harrison) - guitar, vocals
Hugo Degenhardt (Ringo Starr) - drums, vocals
The lead up to the night was exciting in itself. Each time I've been to see a Beatles tribute concert I pretend with all my might that I am going back in time to see my boys in the flesh. This night was no different. And with all my dolly gear and ten ton of trusty hairspray, I did my very best to look like an authentic screamie from the crowds of Beatlemania in 1964.
We booked out tickets early, and were lucky enough to get second row seats; the closest I've been at a tribute Beatles show yet! Scattered upon the stage were replicas of well known Beatle instruments, such as Paul's psychedelic bass and signature Hoffner, and George's 360/12 Rickenbacker, along with Vox speakers. I almost could not contain my excitement!
And then boom! Out they came!
They opened with "I Want To Hold Your Hand" in their black polo neck sweaters and beatle boots. After playing a set, they then went to exit the stage. I quite loudly declared my love for George, and he blew me a kiss. Then a minute later they returned in their Shea Stadium outfits and broke out with a brilliant performance of "She's A Woman". George did the most amazing job of playing the solo from "Taxman" live - amazing! Their resemblance to The Beatles was really quite stunning. But the star was definately Adam Hastings, the man who played John. I honestly could not believe how similar he looked to him. It was like having John Lennon right there on stage in flesh and blood. Each time he looked my way my heart jumped, as for a moment I really believed it was him. I could not tell you how much I wanted to jump up on the stage and tell John how much I love him and hold him forever.
"End of Part One. Intermission"
The gentlemen next to me (who I'd sing and dance with for the rest of the night like an old drunken friend at the pub with) complimented that my hairstyle took him way back to '64 when he saw The Beatles.
Another gentleman behind me compliment on my twist during "Twist And Shout", and I began talking with he and his wife. She'd been to see The Beatles in 1963, and had also visited the Dakota Apartment Building, as well as Strawberry Fields, in New York. I found that George was also her favourite, and for the rest of the night we shared smiles and knowing glances.
"End of Intermission. Part Two"
The most fabulous Sgt. Pepper's outfits I'd ever seen - custom made and identical to those of the actual Beatles back in 1967. Each little detail in each individual outfit was stunning. They were accompanied by a mini orchestra consisting of a trombone, trumpet, curved soprano and alto saxophones and a cello, and opened (of course) with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" followed by "With A Little Help From My Friends". John looked even more like John with his cropped hair, moustache and national health glasses.
After this set they then changed into their "Let It Be" costumes. John continued to amaze me further more. I cannot tell you how unbelievably surreal it was.
What was also really beautiful was when the stage was left for George alone to play "Here Comes The Sun". My sister and I got tears in our eyes. "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" did not help either. I closed my eyes, and for a moment I really believed that my George was right there in front of me. I could not have asked for anything more in my life at that moment.
Finally, they closed with "Hey Jude", which also almost brought me to tears. They took their bows and then left the stage. I did not want them to leave! But thankfully they came back to play "Back In The USSR" and finally a spectacular, spectactular, rendition of "Long Tall Sally". The lady who was sitting behind me pulled me out into the aisle and we danced like it was '63, completely in love with music, and completely in love with The Beatles. We shared a big, big hug afterwards. It was so wonderful to connect with strangers in such a sincere way through such a strong and shared love of something. The happiness I felt was immense. I had never danced so much in my life. My knees were wobbling when it finished. My little sister later told me that I looked as if I was completely in my own little world, in a time bubble. She also later told me that through the night I was enjoying myself and getting into it so much that everyone around me must of thought that I was drunk!
They played such a fantastic selection of songs, and some that I never ever thought I'd hear live, such as "Lady Madonna", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and "The Ballad Of John And Yoko", which I am so thankful for. Really, their performance was amazing. Each musician so accurately replicated the mannerisms of each of the Liverpudlian lads. Vocals, playing styles, foot stomping, facial expressions, humour. You name it. Even Paulie's winks and finger-pointing, and John's cheekiness and gum-chewing were present.
What also made the night so special was their interaction with the audience. They all smiled and winked at me all night, especially Paul, as I sang along with every single lyric and squealed at the introduction of every single song. I felt so proud of my love for my boys, and I'm sure that they were glad to be bringing so much joy at the same time.
All in all, The Bootleg Beatles are a must see for any Beatle fan.
Here is a rough list of the songs that were played on the night:
- I Want To Hold Your Hand
- Please Please Me
- From Me To You
- She Loves You
- Roll Over Beethoven
- This Boy
- No Reply
- Eight Days A Week
- You've Got To Hide Your Love Away
- She's A Woman
- I Feel Fine
- A Hard Day's Night
- Can't Buy Me Love
- Ticket To Ride
- Twist and Shout
- Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
- With A Little Help From My Friends
- Got To Get You Into My Life
- Lady Madonna
- Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds
- Strawberry Fields Forever
- All You Need Is Love
- Magical Mystery Tour
- Come Together
- Here Comes The Sun
- While My Guitar Gently Weeps
- The Ballad Of John And Yoko
- Get Back
- Hey Jude
- Back In The USSR
- Long Tall Sally