Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Bootleg Beatles: Tribute act is real McCoy

The late George Harrison once quipped that the Beatles were unlikely to get together again ‘as long as John Lennon remains dead'.

Thus the importance of having tribute acts like The Bootleg Beatles.

In a sense, there have always been Beatle tribute bands, from ELO to Oasis (whom the Bootlegs once, surreally, supported), but the idea of a note for note facsimile takes pop music into the realms of theatre.

This made the show an initially odd, even eerie experience.

But the band showed they had the musical chops for the occasion.

Opening with I Want to Hold Your Hand, they ran through the early hits. She Loves You especially giving a real sense of the attack that those first songs had live.

As they moved towards the Rubber Soul/Revolver period you got a sense not just of a tribute band,but a damned good band in their own right, as Day Tripper showed.

After the interval, they made the transition from lairy Beatles to hairy Beatles, playing the songs that the originals never got to play live, including a note perfect Strawberry Fields helped by omnipresent mysterious fifth bootleg Steve Peterson.

Characterisation remained imressively consistent throughout, with Neil Harrison's Scouse perfect Lennon dominant. 'I love you John' shouted an audience member at odds with reality. But there is a kind of alchemy that happens when an audience sings along to 'Hey Jude' which confounds notions of tribute bands, and David-Catlin Birch's Paul channelled the spirit of the song beautifully.

Some might have felt the show itself slightly overlong, but should consider themselves lucky.

The real Beatles would have played for 20 minutes and then been whisked away by helicopter.

MICHAEL CONAGHAN

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