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The Bootleg Beatles in Concert – Symphony Hall, Birmingham

Reviewer: John Kennedy

Uncannily accurate musical theatre mimicry or just Fab Four necrophiliac nostalgia? Whether neither, either or both it can’t be denied that a guaranteed splendid time is being had by all. The secret to maintaining the Bootleg Beatles’ magical mystery allure during this two-hour tour down melody lane is not to look too closely – just buy into the illusion – just let it be.

The evening’s programme celebrates ‘From Cavern…To Rooftop’ An embracing iconography of gestating sweaty gigs in subterranean Liverpool cellars to the police-teasing skylines above Apple HQ in London.

There’s a tech-hitch lasting near 25 minutes. Lighting issues – A Delay In The Life, perhaps? The band both apologise and milk this mercilessly. Steve White’s Paul McCartney has that caricatured, slightly naïf ingratiating chumminess that plays perfect foil to Adam Hastings’ John Lennon. The latter’s stiletto-stabbing cynical asides and wry anachronistic teases are definitive Lennon as rebellious school-boy piddling up against the fourth-wall, while George Harrison (Stephen Hill), himself chipping in with the occasional laconic riposte, is even allowed a ‘guest-spot’ song or two. And Gordon Elsmore’s Ringo? Well, he gets more than a little help from his friends and those neat triplet-fills demonstrate that yes, he is/was the best drummer in The Beatles.

This evening’s ‘Fabulous Stage Show’ four-part Pop Go The Beatles homage first covers the innocent mop-top mayhem before being smothered by the hormone storm of Shea Stadium. Moving through the pharmaceutical enhanced Sgt Peppers’ and Summer Of Love there’s a bitter-sweet ambiguity to the Magical Mystery tour de farce. The show’s evocative dénouement dedicates itself first to the self-destruct antagonism of Let It Be then the reconciliatory truce of Abbey Road.

‘Seen that John Lewis advert?’ Barbs Lennon. ’They nicked it off us – bloody tribute bands!’

Reviewed on 15 December 2017 | Image: Contributed

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One Comment

  1. The whole night was excellent. Crowd participation the order of the day ! Singing along and dancing, the whole audience involved in the play. The act itself has matured over the years and these guys can master a bit ad-libbing with ease. A must see for shear entertainment.

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