When my friend C mentioned going to see Sgt Peppers/Abbey Road Back2Back at the Sydney Opera House I had to think about it.
I am a HUGE Beatles fan.
(You can read about my love for them here: http://reviews-vyv.blogspot.com.au/2009/10/beatles.html )
But I was curious, knew C had never been to the SOH and wanted to go plus knowing Russell Morris was involved eased my mind a little.
And then I was gloriously gifted the ticket!
So the premise is playing Sgt Peppers and Abbey Road back to back.
Hmmm, albums even The Beatles never played live, how would this be?
Abbey Road was my favourite Beatles album for a long, long time until The White Album took over, so not only were they playing the tunes, but favourite tunes.
And whilst some have managed to cover their tunes well over the years, I have seen many people come unstuck in their attempts. They are not easy to cover, not just because of their immense historic legacy but many of their songs are not easy to play or sing.
So I was eager to see how this would come across!
We had a lovely drive to Sydney via Bobbin Head, ate at Circular Quay, wandered the festive January crowds on a warm, windy afternoon, and finally settled in the main concert hall in very good seats!
About 10mins prior to the commencement, two hippy looking dudes came out and sat on a rug and tuned and played their Bongos and Sitar.
Suddenly I was aware I may be in for a tremendous evening, I hadn't even thought about HOW these seminal albums would be replicated!?!
But a Sitar was serious man!!!
And soon we were on the most magical ride, a ride of sheer, utter musical joy.
As a Beatles fans into your fifth decade you know you'll never hear the songs live...it's that simple. Only my Dad has had that pleasure, and even then, as he says, it was just a lot of girls screaming! And I have seen McCartney who was magnificent, but this is different.
And suddenly Sgt Peppers was being played live by the most remarkable individuals, working together to create a Beatlesque sound, and it was freaking awesome!!!
The band was large and tight, multiple instruments including a string and brass section and for the songs that required it, and Indian instrument section! Among these musicians Rex Goh (the musical director and a familiar face in Australian live music) on guitar, Lindsey Field (vocal arranger and session musician for just about anyone who's anyone in Australian music) on backing vocals, and Paul Gray (Wa Wa Nee...such a fan, I recognised him immediately!) on piano and backing vocals.
And the singers were remarkable, when Doug Parkinson is the weak link in the chain, you know you are in good hands! Doug sung on Fixing a hole and Golden Slumbers. He also dueted with others on Good morning Good morning, A day in the life, Because, and She came in through the bathroom window.
Jon Toogood (Shihad) was remarkably jiggy. He handled all the 'fun' tunes and was brilliant, such a joy in his performance and a great young John AND Paul voice!!! He sung Being for the benefit of Mr Kite, Maxwell's Silver Hammer, Polythene King. His handling of the Lennon vocals on A day in the life was spine tingling.
Tim Morrison (the only unknown, apparently he was on one of those 'singing' shows), was rather fetching and had a great voice, particularly youngish Paul. He sung When I'm Sixty-four, Something, and You never give me your money, and Dueted on Getting Better. Something was a show stopper on the teary type!
Of course Russell Morris was Superb, that was always going to be a given. He got the biggies, Within you without you, Lovely Rita, Oh Darling, and Here comes the sun. He killed Oh Darling, which is a favourite and a hard song to cover.
But the jaw dropper for me was Jack Jones. He sung in that awful Southern Sons thing from the 80s, I would never had rated him at all....how could I be so wrong? He was a gobsmackingly brilliant performer, what a voice and guitar playing! Underrated they said, I would agree. Jack just killed it every time he was on stage, Lucy in the sky with diamonds, She's leaving home, I want you, Sun King, and Her Majesty. When he squeezed his nose to replicate the funky sound Lennon makes on Lucy I gasped...why!?! But it worked...I can't even... And I want you was most possibly the most astonishing vocal and guitar performance I have EVER seen.
The remaining songs, Sgt Peppers and reprise, With a little help, Come together, Octopus's Garden, and Carry that weight/The End were sung as a group.
About halfway through I get all emotional thinking, imagine how good it would have been to see The Beatles do this...
These were gifted musicians, who obviously loved the material, you could hear in their voice and instrumentation, and see in on their faces.
I am still reeling in a remarkable performance that had the entire audience on their feet at the end, if you get a chance and you love The Beatles or are just a music lover (cause really, if you love music, how can you NOT love The Beatles!?!?!) this is a must. I could easily see it again tonight!!!!!