It may be 50 years since The Beatles first released a single, but Beatlemania is still going strong if last night’s audience at the opening night of Let It Be is anything to go by.
Yes there may have not been any teenage girls weeping hysterically as they clamber on their seats to get a better view – something I know my mother to have been a fan of when in the presence of the fab four back in the day – but getting the whole of the Prince of Wales theatre on its feet and singing is no easy feat.
With some of the best pop songs ever written at your disposal, however, the material does all the work. From the more raucous I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Twist And Shout to acoustic classics Yesterday and Blackbird, Let It Be is a journey through the catalogue of a truly legendary band, set to the backdrop of huge political and social change.
While more could have been made of the latter journey – vintage adverts, flower power video clips and footage from Vietnam protests only shown to us in short snippets during scene changes – the music – and frequently changed wigs – gives us a good overview of the band’s history. From mop tops and suits to silk flares and long locks, military jackets to Lennon’s iconic white suit, the two hour production moves from the band’s wholesome beginnings to its more revolutionary moments.
Two specially created tribute bands will alternate the roles of the fab four for its London run. On the night I attended Emanuele Angeletti was on stage as a right-handed Paul, Reuven Gershon as the iconic John, Stephen Hill as guitarist George and Gordon Elsmore as a permanently beaming Ringo.
While they may not be exact replicas of the real deal, each have clearly studied their famous counterparts, Angeletti getting McCartney’s nod and bended knee posture just right and Hill taking a slight step back as George, playing the too cool for school guitarist with a stage swagger. It is Gershon who takes centre stage, however, becoming the main spokesperson, addressing the crowd in a Liverpudlian accent and calling upon them to take to their feet or rattle their jewellery in time to the beat.
Billed as a ‘spectacular theatrical concert’, anyone expecting an element of theatre will be longing for a surprise visit from Yoko to create some drama, but go expecting a tribute concert with some impressive lighting, colourful costumes and psychedelic backdrops and you won’t be disappointed.