The music of The Beatles is brought back to the life in the touring stage show Let It Be. Review by David Stewart
It’s two hours and just the songs, yet Let It Be is well worthy of its current touring of theatres and concert halls across the country. Close your eyes and you could be momentarily fooled into thinking you’re hearing the the original recordings. It’s close enough to meet the approval of even the most hardened Beatles fans.
This is a live music act carefully crafted in vocals and mannerisms. It’s a clear labour of love, with four musicians hammering out the hits so well that you feel willing to suspend belief that it’s not The Beatles themselves.
Of course, a direct comparison can be made by the lucky ones who saw the group before they stopped touring in 1966. There were no live versions of songs post Revolver, so it would be impossible to compare any tribute renditions to how the Fab Four might have sounded.
Giving The Beatles their due and conceding their pre-eminence, Let It Be is as close to the real thing as you are ever likely to get.
The show isn’t quite sure whether it’s a live act or an emulation of the singles. But whatever it is, it’s no disappointment. Piano support was provided by Steve Gear, who the band thanked after an encore of ‘Hey Jude’.
Beginning with the backdrop of the Cavern in the early 1960s, the show follows The Beatles from the black-and-white, mop-top era, through the psychedelic ‘Pepper’ years, and finishes, of course, with ‘Let It Be’.
Some fans will notice that although the Let It Be LP was the last album released, Abbey Road was actually the final record laid down in the studio. But the order of the songs, over 40 in all, makes sense, given that we’d expect the title song at the end.
As the hits roll on, played and sung meticulously, ‘Paul McCartney’ (Emmanuele Angeletti) finally takes to the piano and faithfully delivers ‘The Long and Winding Road’ and, of course, ‘Let It Be’. They’ve even found a Paul who, true to life, plays a left-handed bass.
Vocally there’s little else to say other than they all sound pretty much like the respective members of the original band. Particular mention should go to Stephen Hill (playing George Harrison). He waits patiently, as did George, for his first moment in the spotlight, but delivers a chillingly accurately rendition of ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’.
‘Ringo Starr’ (Phil Martin) gets to sing two songs, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’ and ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’, and seems happy enough playing away with some incredible head rattling.
The amps, if they were used at all, should have been turned up, to make sure the sound filled the larger venue.
Don’t go looking for much of a plot here: it’s simply a race through the hits. But ‘John Lennon’ (Reuven Gershon) does ask people to “rattle their jewellery” in a daring re-enactment of the 1963 Royal Variety Performance. Screens and stage projections also provide minor narrative but this adds little to the performance.
A fitting stage portrayal of The Beatles story remains unwritten, but Let It Be is an incredible tribute to their music.
Let It Be finishes its Edinburgh run on Saturday (7 Jun) before heading off for the following tour dates:
9 – 14 Jun: Belfast, Grand Opera House
16 – 21 Jun: Dublin, Bord Gaise Energy Theatre
23 – 28 Jun: Sheffield, Lyceum
30 Jun – 5 Jul: Southend, Cliffs Pavilion