Wednesday 19 December 2012

Review: The Bootleg Beatles in Birmingham

NIA, Birmingham – 16th December 2012
Review by Gilli Hale

As is customary, the Bootleg’s ended their December UK tour at the cavernous, concrete NIA in Birmingham.  My first experience of the ultimate tribute act was here last December and I had such a good night I was determined to be back next time round.  As ‘John’ said, groups play Birmingham twice, once on the way up and once on the way down – so it was nice for them to be back!

And the four and a half thousand packed in were glad to have them back and determined to have a good time. As anyone who as been to a Bootleg Beatles concert will know it is one mass sing-a-long, encouraged by the group.  And boy, do those guys work hard!  On stage for well over 2 ½ hours, four costume changes, playing all their own instruments, staying in character – giving the sort of concert the Beatles might have done if they had carried on touring.

From what I can remember, the set list and banter were pretty much the same as last time.  But there were a few changes;  ‘Paul’ sang “Yesterday”, there was “Baby’s in Black”, no instrumental interlude this time, a tribute to Ravi Shankar and Paul introducing “Love Me Do” with the thought that in the year 2012 this record might be 50 years old!

The visuals on the giant screen behind the band were stunning and summed up the particular era being played, the psychedelic Pepper section being particularly good.  This part of the show seemed to be a favourite with the audience, made up of all ages, who John encouraged in a group hug. There was certainly a feeling of love in the air, love for the Beatles music and perhaps for a more innocent time.

Particular highlights of the evening included a spirited rendition (by the audience I mean!) of “Eight Days A Week”; “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”, a beautiful version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and the great joiner-inner “Hey Jude”.  Not that you could find a dull part of the show, it was high-energy from beginning to end.

The Bootlegs not only try and sound like The Beatles but copy their mannerisms and patters of speech too, giving the impression that, just maybe, you are in the presence of greatness.  For anyone who loves the Beatles music, a Bootlegs gig is a great night out.  I will be back next year.

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