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Lennon Royal Court theatre, Liverpool

Music review

Music review

I feel I am back in the 60s, in a packed Batley Variety Club, tucking into the ubiquitous chicken in a basket, watching the stars of the day.

But no, this is 2013 and I’m at Liverpool’s Royal Court Theatre with a meal in front of me that Jamie Oliver would be proud to have cooked (sea bass with all the trimmings) and a night of Beatles music to follow on stage. No other theatre offers anymore.

The musical is ‘Lennon’, the story of the ex-Beatle told in the words of his songs, performed by a first rate live band and accompanied by backdrop of clips from photographs and newsreels of the time.

The show was a big West End and off-Broadway hit in the 1980s and has now been revived by director, Bob Eaton.

John Power, of The La’s and lead singer of Cast, plays the older Lennon magnificently, but looking as much like John Denver as John Lennon although Tom Connor bears a remarkable resemblance to a baby-faced Paul.

Matt Breen is George. In the 1980s, I spent four years researching the life of the former Beatle, conducting more than 100 interviews with John’s family and associates in Britain and Hamburg for Albert Goldman’s biography ‘Lives of John Lennon’ and, apart from any mention of May Pang, I don’t think there is much this show has left out.

Furthermore, events are dealt with succinctly with a series of amusing one-liners, usually direct quotes from John, followed by a song which only served to show how often his compositions were semi-autobiographical. So we get Bob Wooler announcing, with raised eyebrows in a suggestive manner that Frankie Howerd couldn’t have bettered, that John had gone on holiday with Brian (Epstein).

The changeover of drummers was dealt with by Ross Higginson (Pete Best) changing wigs and becoming Ringo.

Technology has made the music sound far better than it ever did in the 1960s with the thumping bass lines reverberating round the theatre to over 40 Beatles numbers that had the packed audience clapping along. A great night out. ‘Lennon’ runs until Saturday. Don’t miss it.

RON ELLIS

 

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