Monday 15 August 2011

The Mersey Beatles at the Winter Gardens, Blackpool

Review by Donna Jackson

In 1964, The Beatles performed at the Blackpool Winter Gardens.  In 2011, their magic was recreated by the Mersey Beatles in a two-hour spectacular, involving four costume changes, that thrilled the audience and left us all demanding more.

The show began with the band clad in collarless grey suits, performing a selection of the Beatles’ early hits, including She Loves You, I Want to Hold Her Hand and All My Loving.  From the beginning the energy, passion, enthusiasm and talent of the Mersey Beatles was tangible, and it was apparent that a splendid time was guaranteed for all. 

Solo performances from ‘Paul’, who, accompanied by keyboard player, Tony C, gave a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Yesterday, and ‘John’ singing You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, allowed the band to change clothes without stopping the show as we continued the magical tour through the musical history of the Beatles. 

Dressed now in replicas of the Shea Stadium outfits, complete with Wells Fargo badges, the Mersey Beatles treated us to songs from 1965 and 1966.  Among the many great performances, we were moved by the emotion of In My Life, marvelled at the wonderful harmonies in Paperback Writer, and rocked to Got To Get You Into My Life. 

After a well-earned break, the Mersey Beatles returned to the stage dressed as Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.  The colour of their outfits was matched by the beauty of the music as we were enthralled by psychedelic classics including Strawberry Fields Forever, Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds and I Am a Walrus.  The ‘Pepper’ section ended with a stunning performance of A Day in the Life; words cannot do justice to the feeling invoked by the final musical crescendo!

Two more solo performances – The Fool on the Hill from ‘Paul’, and a beautiful rendition of While My Guitar Gently Weeps from ‘George’ – allowed the band to change into their fourth costume of the night to celebrate the last couple of years of Beatles music.  The beauty of Let It Be, the intricacy of Come Together, the sheer passion of Oh Darlin’, and the great rocking rhythms of Lady Madonna finished off a fabulous evening ... well, apart from the inevitable encore! 

When the final notes of Hey Jude died away, and we knew that, this time, the show really was over, it was clear that we had all had the privilege to be a part of something very special.  I’ve been lucky enough to see the Mersey Beatles perform many times, but this show was amazing!  In my opinion, they’re the best Beatles tribute band around, and the show at the Winter Gardens only served to reinforce that view.

From start to finish, it was a totally fabulous night! 

If you weren’t lucky enough to attend the show at the Winter Gardens, there are plenty of other opportunities to see the Mersey Beatles.  They’re the Cavern’s resident Beatles band and perform on the iconic front stage most Thursdays.  They have the honour – justifiably and rightly deserved – of opening the Mathew Street Festival this year (the Tunnel Stage, 12 noon, Sunday August 28).  But if you can’t make it to Liverpool, don’t worry.  They tour extensively, with gigs scheduled in Finland, Sweden and Malaysia this year. 

More details of the band, and full details of their schedule of performances, can be found here 

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