Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Review: The Mersey Beatles at the Epstein Theatre

Earlier this year, the Neptune Theatre in Liverpool was re-opened, having been beautifully renovated and refurbished and renamed in honour of Brian Epstein.

On Saturday November 10, Liverpool's favourite tribute band, The Mersey Beatles, became the first Beatles tribute band to grace the stage at the Epstein Theatre, and they did Brian, The Beatles and Liverpool proud.

From the very first moment, when 'Paul' counted in the introduction to "I Saw Her Standing There" it was clear that we were in for a very special night.  The atmosphere was magical as the boys took the audience on a journey through the Beatles musical career -- from "Love Me Do" to "Let It Be".

With four different costumes -- collarless grey suits, Shea stadium outfits, Sgt Pepper suits, and Abbey Road era costumes -- as well as the appropriate guitars for each era and song, the Mersey Beatles delivered on their promise to perform "the concert The Beatles never gave."

The quality of the music was superb with each song performed live and reproduced in the original key, with spot-on harmonies and perfect guitar solos that had the audience marveling at the sheer quality of the talent on display.

Mark Bloor as 'John'

As with any fully live performance, there was bound to be the occasional glitch but these only served to add to the night's entertainment.  During "Love Me Do" the theatre lights failed and we were all plunged into darkness.  Rather than spoiling the evening, though, this merely gave the boys the opportunity to show their personalities.  Without skipping a beat, jokes and banter from the stage had the audience laughing and enjoying the moment ... and also acknowledging that The Beatles would probably have reacted in exactly the same way.

Steven Howard as 'Paul'

This, and other interactions between the boys on stage, only served to enhance the quality of the Mersey Beatles as a tribute act.  They don't claim to 'be' The Beatles, they don't use scripts or reproduce the lines made famous by the original Fab Four, and they don't try to impersonate the men they acknowledge as their heroes.  They are simply themselves -- lads who are all Liverpool born and bred, but who have the same charm, wit and intelligence as The Beatles.  Thus, they bring The Beatles 'alive' in a way that allows those who were around in the 60s to relive happy memories, and to give to those who are too young to have 'been there' a taste of something they can otherwise only dream about.

David Howard as 'George'

Thus, for two and a half hours on Saturday night we were transported back in time.  We, in the audience, experienced the music, the energy, the passion and the excitement of four lads from Liverpool who went on to conquer the world.  For those two and a half hours, reality was suspended and, although there may not be much mystery when such classic songs are being performed, the tour through The Beatles musical catalogue was certainly magical.

Brian Ambrose as 'Ringo'

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Beatles tribute bands around the world, but only a handful that can rightly claim to have that little something special that sets them apart.  The Mersey Beatles are one of the select few.  It's not just their musical talent -- many bands can legitimately make that claim -- although musical talent is clearly a key element in their success.  It's not just their abundant charm and charisma.  It's not just the chemistry that exists between all the boys.  It's not just their passion and enthusiasm for the music of The Beatles that is so evident as they play.  It's not just the respect that they have for the music, for the audience and for The Beatles.  It's not even just a combination of all these elements.  It is that combination plus that added spark that defies description but which everyone in the Epstein Theatre on Saturday night witnessed first hand, and which had us all on our feet begging for more.

Tony C, the 5th Mersey Beatle,
 on keyboards as 'Sgt Pepper'

The Epstein Theatre has been beautifully refurbished and is a fitting monument to Brian; on November 10, in a performance that all those privileged to witness will not forget, the Mersey Beatles complimented that tribute to Brian perfectly.

A cake, honouring Brian, celebrating this very special performance
by The Mersey Beatles from Lisa, The Cake Rooms

To find out when and where the Mersey Beatles are performing next, visit their website www.themerseybeatles.com

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