One Session Everyone Should Go On
Ever since the break up of the Beatles , there had been rumours circulating of a vault at Abbey Rd studios containing a wealth of unreleased material from the whole of their career . In late 1995 this was confirmed as the remaining Beatles came together for a six episode documentary entitled 'Anthology'. This was followed by 3 albums, each containing two CD's or three vinyl LPs of mostly never-before-released Beatles material.
Beatles fans where overjoyed at the prospect of new unheard tracks from the fab four. However this was not the first time that this project had been thought of. As far back as 1985 EMI had planned to release an album of alternate takes and previously unreleased songs by The Beatles called 'Sessions', however, the band objected to the project after it had been compiled.
Even earlier, back in 1981, in-house engineer John Barrett was given the task of cataloguing the complete studio tapes from the bands seven year career with EMI. Certain tracks would be used on the aforementioned 'Sessions' album. However a large portion of these recordings found their way in to the hands of bootleggers who circulated these sessions through various outlets including record fairs, up and down the country.
This was my introduction to the sessions, various takes and alternate versions. For me it was like being in the studio, listening to the band chat and joke around whilst the guys in the control booth sat patiently waiting for that perfect take. Which brings me nicely to tonight's performance.
To be honest I wasn't sure what to expect. Beatles show in Liverpool? I'm sure there's one everyday.
However non of those quite get near what I am about to witness.
Upon taking my seat I am greeted by a large square stage that is surrounded by see through drapes. As the lights dim a dedication to the fifth Beatle, Sir George Martin, is projected on to the drapes. This is greeted by a home crowd round of applause. As these rise we are taken into the world of Studio 2, Abbey Rd, and a re-enactment of the now famous and iconic 'All You Need Is Love' broadcast, complete with a 21 piece orchestra.
From this very moment I am hooked. Its really quite brilliant. Outside looking in. All the studio is faithfully reconstructed and even has a viewing gallery where the control room in situated. Attention to detail is all down to Geoff Emerick, who is the Creative Consultant and worked at Abbey Rd during the Beatles years.
As the song ends we see white lab coated engineers clear the stage as though we are being taken back to the very beginning.
Enter the Beatles all holding their trade mark instruments. A voice emits from the P.A. ' OK boys from the top-take one-I Saw Her Standing There'
It's a breath taking performance. The audio-visual presentation makes you feel part of the show. You are personally taken into the studio. The only time there is any audience contact is when Sir George , played faultlessly by Jack Baldwin, gives a brief insight into the recording techniques and the notable progression in their musical ability.
On each track we a treated to multi media images that represent the era, starting with black and white footage, leading on to colour for the latter part of their career.
The first set of the show is around an hour and a quarter long and features around 33 tracks. Starting with 'Please Please Me' Though to 'Revolver' but ending with a memorable performance of 'Yellow Submarine' complete with horn section. Oh did I mention. It's all played live!!!
During the interval I phoned the shows PR agent, Gregor , just to say how blown away I was by what I had just witnessed... he said 'Tell me again in another hour'...to be fair there wasn't any need to.
Act two features the great moments from the albums Sgt Pepper through to Abbey Rd, and personally is my favourite.
During 'The Magical Mystery Tour' session we are treated to a stunning version of 'I Am The Walrus' complete the outfits from the video, dancing policemen and several eggmen!!
Later on 'Helter Skelter' raises the roof at the arena. Absolutely blistering version. You cannot fault the musicianship of the actors. One quote from the cast was "We are not trying to look like the Beatles - but to sound like them-exactly like them'. No worries there. It surpassed my expectations.
The show finishes with a medley , 'Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight' and leaves a sad feeling in my heart. Its been quite an emotional journey and also brought back memories from my childhood.
The whole cast returns, approx 45 people, for the encore that's introduced by Sir George. What's the song? Well I'm not telling. There are lots of other fantastic moments that are in the show. however I'm not revealing those spoilers. All I can say is I've just spent a fantastic evening with the Beatles at Abbey Road studios. I think you should to!
Sessions is on tour throughout April and May