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 

Friday, 12 August 2011

Visit Mendips and Forthlin Road

If you want to walk in the footsteps of the Beatles, no visit to Liverpool is complete without a visit to the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney.  Today both properties are owned by the National Trust, which operates guided tours inside the houses (and is the only tour that allows access inside the properties).

Both houses have been restored to how they looked in about 1957 – commemorating the year that John and Paul first met.  There are some original features, but although many of the fixtures and furnishings are not original to the houses, they are all authentic for the time and you really do feel as if you’re stepping back in history. 

The houses are cared for by husband-and-wife team, Colin and Sylvia Hall.  Their knowledge of the Beatles and the history of both houses is excellent, and their passion for their work is inspiring.  They clearly care, not only about the Beatles’ legacy, but also about the visitors who travel from all over the world to visit.  And, indeed, it’s magical to be able to spend time inside both houses and stand on 'hallowed ground'. 

The tour takes about 2 1/2 hours, and costs £20 for adults and £3.40 for children.  Transport to and from the properties from either Liverpool city centre or Speke Hall is included in the price.  There is a discounted charge for National Trust members.

For more information, or to book online, visit the National Trust website 

Monday, 8 August 2011

Family Fun Day at Penny Lane!

Celebrate being at the legendary Penny Lane, with a Family Fun Day at the Penny Lane Development Trust on Sunday August 28!

Entry is by ticket only.  Buy now to avoid disappointment!

Friday, 5 August 2011

WIN TICKETS for the Preview of "The Beatles: Revolutionary 1965"

The Beatles: Revolutionary 1965
by Michael Peto
August 25 - October 2, 2011
Proud Camden, NW1

Proud Camden presents The Beatles: Revolutionary 1965 by Michael Peto, an intimate photographic portrait of The Beatles taken during one of the most significant years in The Beatles’ history, 1965, including rare and unseen shots.

We have FIVE pairs of tickets to give away for the Special Preview for this wonderful exhibition on Wednesday August 24

To enter, please email by 12 noon on Friday August 19, with the answer to these questions:
Q1: To whom did the Beatles dedicate the film "Help!"?
Q2: To which university did Michael Peto's family donate his archive of 130,000 prints and negatives?
Please make sure that you include your name and address in the email, and that the email is headed "Competition: Proud Galleries"
The first five correct entries drawn at random after the closing date will each win a pair of tickets to attend the preview event on Wednesday August 24.  The competition is not open to BBFC Committee Members, and the BBFC decision is final
Good luck everyone!

When Michael Peto died in 1970, just a few years after these photographs were taken; his family donated his archive of 130,000 prints and negatives to the University of Dundee which included more than 500 previously unseen pictures of The Beatles. Peto spent a year photographing the group at a pivotal moment in their career, building up a close working relationship with them which is clearly shown in these intimate portraits.

In 1965 The Beatles filmed Help!, toured the UK for the last time and reinvented themselves to try and put an end to the mass hysteria of ‘Beatlemania’. After recording Help!¸ they were keen to move away from their formulaic, yet highly successful previous style and become more experimental. By scaling back their gruelling touring schedule, they were able to commit to spending more time writing music that was personal and reflected their own lives. Late that year, they recorded the groundbreaking album, Rubber Soul, which saw a change of direction for the Beatles and paved the way for later albums such as Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

This exhibition is a testament to Peto’s unobtrusive humanist approach to photography and includes rare and unseen images from this period of great change for the band; including the day when news broke that the band would receive an MBE and in the studio recording Rubber Soul. Proud Galleries is pleased to present The Beatles: Revolutionary 1965; portraits of the band at work and at rest over the course of that life-changing year, a must-see for any Beatles fan.
Fellow photographer, Colin Jones, Peto’s protégée at the Observer, says: “He took great portraits... because he was always very polite, very gentle and he would flatter people. He also knew when to leave, which is a skill many photographers don't have.”

The exhibition runs from August 25 to October 2 at Proud Camden
The Horse Hospital, Stables Market, Chalk Farm Road,
Camden Town, London, NW1 8AH

The gallery is open every day from 11am to 5pm, and admission is FREE!

For more information click here

All images © University ofDundee

Beautiful Nights in Chicago!

review by Craig Smith

“hot time, summer in the city…………..”

Paul’s short “On the Run” tour passed through Chicago’s historic Wrigley Field stadium and I was lucky enough to attend both shows. Having avoided the city for 6 years the anticipation was electric by the time Sir Paul took the stage for the 1st concert on 31st July.

On this beautiful, but hot and steamy night, Paul and band ripped through all the regular Macca concert fodder and a few surprises to boot. Obvious highlights were new tour songs, ‘Juniors Farm’ (absolutely amazing to hear), ‘The Night Before’ and ‘I Will’. Personal favourite ‘Sing The Changes’ was great to hear too and ‘Live and Let Die’ included an amazing array of fireworks over the ancient ballpark, and as always was a crowd pleaser.
The second equally humid night, featured 5 different songs, albeit Beatle songs, but the inclusion of ‘I’m Looking Through You’ was a real surprise. The band seemed a bit looser than the previous night and Paul fluffed the lines on at least 4 songs and the finale of ‘Golden Slumbers’ was totally missed by the whole band. That slip aside the whole experience was incredible and I am so happy to have been a part of it.

Read my full review in issue 42 of the BBFC Magazine (due out in September)

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

2011 Liverpool Beatles Auction -- Cavern History For Sale!

By Anne-Marie Trace, The Beatles Shop
The 2011 Liverpool Beatles Auction boasts lots that cover the entire history of the original Cavern Club from its roots as a Jazz club through to its final demise.

The Hessys publication Frank Comments (Lot 92 – three issues) and Merseyside Jazz Magazine (lot 91) carried adverts for the Cavern Club and it organised it's own Jazz Festival in 1960 with a programme of events (lot 95) that included Rory Storm and The Hurricanes, featuring Ringo Starr on drums.

When the Beatles were playing in the Cavern one fan took her records Love Me Do (lot 206) and Please Please Me (lot 205) down to the club in her handbag (lot 200) to get signed.

When the Cavern stage was replaced in the 1960s it was cut into pieces and sold off to Beatles fans (lot 259). The Cavern closed in the mid sixties, but it did not go quietly, there were protests and eventually the club reopened in July 1966. The Prime Minister came along to the reopening. There was a programme for the event (lot 214) and Rufus Thomas and Solomon Burke were contracted to play during the day (lots 273 & 274)
After the reopening the club started to sell branded merchandising. There are quite a few examples in the auction including a very rare Cavern Tshirt (lot 264) and a full price list for merchandise available to fans. (lot 287)

The club was finally subjected to a Compulsory purchase order from the Railways (lot 253) and set for demolition. But not before the gas meters were all read. The club contacted the Gas Board by letter (lot 216) informing them that demolition was imminent and they weren't responsible for damage to Gas Board equipment that wasn't removed.

And just when you think the story of the original Cavern is over, building work on the site a decade after the club was demolished yields a number of original bricks from the original club that are sold off by the new site owners for a local charity. (lot 215.)

And this is only skimming the surface of Cavern items in this year's auction!
For more information, and to download the catalogue, click here

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Competition -- More Great Prizes Announced!

To celebrate the re-launch of the British Beatles Fan Club website, we will shortly be announcing details of an exciting new competition. 

We are proud and delighted to announce today that Cavern City Tours are supporting us and have offered two really great prizes.

The first of these is TWO tickets for the Magical Mystery Tour, a two-hour tour around Liverpool visiting the sites that were so important in the lives of John, Paul, George and Ringo

Click here for more details of the tour

We also have TWO tickets for one of the Beatles Tribute concerts in the back room of the Cavern Club, the same place where Paul McCartney performed in 1999.  These concerts are usually completely sold out, and so these really are the hottest tickets in town!

This year on 9 February the Cavern celebrated the 50th Anniversary of The Beatles first ever appearance at this iconic venue.

We continue the celebrations throughout the summer with a Beatle tribute show every Saturday in the Cavern Live Lounge – the very room that Sir Paul McCartney played in December 1999.

These shows follow on from our Beatles Monthly shows throughout the year and always feature one of our resident Beatle bands.

Doors open at 9pm; show starts at 9.30pm

Saturday 6 August - featuring Made In Liverpool
Saturday 13 August - McCartney and Beatles Show featuring The Blue Meanies
Saturday 20 August - featuring The Cavern Beatles
Saturday 24 September - featuring The Blue Meanies
Saturday 22 October - featuring The Mersey Beatles
Saturday 19 November - featuring The Mersey Beatles

Click here for more information on the Beatles Tribute Nights

More details of the competition and the other great prizes on offer will be posted here soon!

Monday, 1 August 2011

The Beatelles Get Back to the Cavern

The Beatelles, an all-girl Beatles tribute band from Liverpool, performed an amazing set in the Cavern Club on Sunday July 31.

The band -- Catherine Cook on rhythm guitar, Louisa Roach on bass guitar, Stephanie Kennedy on lead guitar and Nadine Kemp on drums -- opened with Get Back, and it was quickly very clear that the girls were back where they belong – on the Cavern’s front stage!  The set covered the full range of the Beatles repertoire, from “Please Please Me” to a really great, and original, version of “For You Blue”. 

Songs from the White Album featured heavily, and it was great to hear rarer tracks such as “Everyone’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” and “Why Don’t We Do It In the Road” played live.  

The set concluded with a wonderful version of “Helter Skelter”, combining both the Anthology interpretation with the White Album version. 

The Beatelles are not only all wonderfully talented musicians, but also really lovely people who performed with grace, dignity, and sheer professionalism.  It is always a pleasure and a privilege to watch them play.  My only complaint was that the set wasn’t long enough, but the great news is that the Beatelles will be performing in the Cavern on Sundays throughout August (with a break because of their appearance at the Scottish Beatles Weekend in Dundee).

For more information on the Beatelles, click here

Beatles Culture in Buenos Aires

Review by Ian Mole

Before I went to Buenos Aires I knew from my friends that The Beatles were very popular there but it was interesting to see at first hand the extent to which their music remains alive to thousands of fans.

The Beatles Museum, in Paseo La Plaza off Avenida Corrientes, and the Cavern Club next door are the epicentre of Beatledom in B.A. The museum was created in January 2011 by Rodolfo Vazquez and the thousands of items on display are only part of his private collection which holds the Guinness Record for Beatle artefacts.

Lautaro Pirruccio, drummer with
"The Boys", a junior Beatles Tribute Band 
with all the boys aged 11 and 12 

I visited it one afternoon and enjoyed spending thirty minutes or so looking at such original items as a letter from Aunt Mimi to a fan and the numerous Beatles records and souvenirs from all over the world. I actually found myself being called on to talk to a group of schoolchildren in the John Lennon Room about the time I saw the Beatles in November 1963 at the height of Beatlemania.  While I was the Cavern Club, a competition for Beatles tribute bands was taking place, which only highlighted the enduring popularity of the Beatles in Argentina. 

Of the several Beatles tribute bands I saw during my visit, for me the best was The Shouts, who I saw at the Teatro Coliseo in La Plata. The group features  Fernando Lotito as John, Bernado Criscuolo as Paul, Bernado Rapallini as George and Adrian Olivieri as Ringo. 

They greeted the audience in the beautifully-restored Teatro Coliseo in Spanish and continued to link the numerous songs with amusing banter in their native language. Accompanied by keyboard player Guido Spina and at times by a three-piece brass section they performed over twenty-five songs from the full range of the Beatles' career and went through suitable costume changes as the years rolled by. The standard of playing was very good and the vocals were virtually free from a Spanish accent. The theatre was almost full with around seven hundred present as the two-hour show began and I think I can say that a splendid time was had by all. After the show the group came out into the theatre foyer and posed for photos with the fans who were waiting there as well as signing numerous autographs. (For more information on the band see

The Fest For Beatles Fans, New Jersey March 25-27 2011

Review by Dave Bedford
Photographs by Robin Mack-Roberts

In March I attended the 37th annual Fest for Beatles fans in New Jersey.

Gary Wright

The highlight of the weekend was the concert on the Saturday night, with tribute band “Liverpool” in superb form. As well as performing some great covers of Beatles classics, they provided the backing music for some incredible talent, including legendary Wings guitarist, Laurence Juber, and Gary Wright.  Gary, who has performed with both George and Ringo, and co-wrote many of George’s songs, treated us to a special performance, of ‘To Discover Yourself’, a song he wrote with George many years ago, but which was not premiered until the Chicago Fest in 2010. It’s an incredible song, clearly bearing George’s hallmark.

As a Liverpudlian, the highlight for me was the appearance on stage of Joey Molland, guitarist with Apple's most successful artists, Badfinger. He still has a strong Liverpool accent, having grown up in the Edge Hill area of Liverpool. He launched into the greatest hits of Badfinger, like “Come And Get It”, “No Matter What”, “Baby Blue” and “Day After Day”, with the packed hall joining in with the singing.  

Larry Kane, Frieda Kelly, Joey Molland and me!
There were many guest speakers, but the star of the weekend for most people was Frieda Kelly, the

secretary of the original Beatles Fan Club. On Sunday, I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Frieda and Joey Molland as part of a panel chaired by journalist Larry Kane. Frieda fascinated the audience with her tales of The Beatles wandering in and out of the offices, capturing for us some of the excitement of the early days of the group. She also had fond memories of young Joey Molland coming in and out of the office, and we all shared our memories and knowledge of Liverpool.  It was great fun! 

I’ve been invited to attend again next year, and I can’t wait.  It’s a great event and I hope to see some of you there!