Reviewed by Jude Featherby
As a woman of a certain age whose teenage years were lived and breathed in the 80’s, going back in time a little further tonight to experience my parents love of The Beatles music was an evening I was certainly looked forward to.
We took our seats and waited in anticipation for the show to begin. Watching imitation retro television sets buzzing on and off with 60’s newspaper clippings, black and white newsreels and Beatles quiz questions to keep us entertained.
The curtains swathed back and the scene was set as we were transported back to the Royal Variety Performance with the Queen Mother “Let it Be” (the show and also the name that the group are known as) wasted no time at all starting with the punchy and upbeat “She Loves You”. Suited and booted in navy blue, you were right back in time and could have imagined HRH sitting in the stalls looking down. ”I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, ”All My Loving” and the wonderful “Yesterday” were all embraced by the audience who had all come on their own Magical Mystery tour.
A quick set and suit change, we’d gone transatlantic over to Shea Stadium in America for their huge American tour of songs and hysteria. ”Help!” although by this point they didn’t need any as they had the audience captivated with “I Feel Fine” and we were persuaded to get up and Twist and Shout, though it didn’t take much. In their matching beige turned up collared suits and floppy hair styles and boy next door persona, it was easy to understand what all the screaming was about in the 60’s.
After a little longer interlude with the TV sets showing us entertaining 1960’s adverts of cigarettes and shampoo. The new set recreated Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The drum kit decked with exotic flowers and Let It Be dressed in the famous bright military style costumes complete with moustaches. A great rendition by the drummer Ben Cullingworth (Ringo Starr) of “With a Little Help from my Friends”, as the audience sang along with him. The wonderful album tracks flowed and the audience were teased by Michael Gagliano (John Lennon) about our ages as they began to play When I’m 64.
Abbey Road was our final destination before the half time interlude and with much longer hair, very casual dress code and the audience eating out of their hand by now, we were already looking forward to part 2.
Returning back, we had to imagine a 1980 reunion between the band. Times had changed and they had had their own individual success.
“Starting Over”, ”Got my Mind Set on You” and “Live and Let Die”, which to many is still the best ever Bond theme. A nod also made to their Rock and Roll inspirations of their younger years including Little Richard were played and sung with much enthusiasm.
The finale was all pure Beatles music. John Brosnan (George Harrison) well deserved his standing applause for his brilliant solo of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and Emanuele Angeletti (Paul McCartney) cover of ”Hey Jude” on the piano, you had to blink to make sure it really wasn’t Macca!
Of course they couldn’t have played everyone’s favourite Beatles track and maybe at the start I felt they didn’t have a great audience connection spark. But by the end of the evening I could have easily stayed for a lot more of The Beatles back catalogue and also Michael Gagliano’s brilliant John Lennon interaction with us.
It was certainly not A Hard Day’s Night enjoying Let It Be.
Tickets cost from £17.50 to £33.50 (booking fees may apply).
Let It Be is at the Royal Concert Hall in Nottingham from 11-15 September 2018, for more information or to book tickets visit www.trch.co.uk or call the box office on 0115 989 5555.
Theatre Royal & Royal Concert Hall, Theatre Square, Nottingham, NG1 5ND | 0115 989 5555