Let It Be

Emanuele Angeletti
Annerin Poductions and Flying Entertainmant
Sheffield Lyceum

Let It Be - Sergeant Pepper Credit: David Munn Photography

Let It Be is a celebration of the music of the Beatles played in a theatre, not an arena, where last night’s audience was substantially a group who were young when the Beatles were young and are now in their late 60s or early 70s. This did not prevent them from joining in enthusiastically to sing along to well remembered numbers and clap, tap, stand, wave arms and dance in the aisles.

My companion of the evening admitted to seeing the Beatles at an early performance at the Cavern Club. When asked then what he thought of them, he said, "I thought they were rubbish". What a comment to come back and haunt him! However, enthused by Kenny Everett and many radio DJs, he soon became an avid collector of their records and could sing along with the best of them.

The format of the evening takes us on a journey from the early, highly energetic songs of the early '60s, "Please Please Me", "Twist and Shout", "Love Me Do", from the Cavern Club to New York and the Abbey Lane Studio, where the addition of orchestral arrangements and sophisticated visual effects makes the words as important as the music.

This is seen particularly in songs like "Yesterday", "Eleanor Rigby" and the more psychedelic "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". Remarkably, it was less than a decade from the beginning of the group’s phenomenal success to its dissolution.

The set provides a variety of backdrops, from the interior of the Cavern Club and Shea Stadium, New York, to images and outfits taken from later films and album covers. Video projectors present the political and cultural background of the period: demonstrations against the Vietnam War, Twiggy, hippies with flowers in their hair.

Four very talented contemporary musicians representing the Fab Four are convincing look-alikes who replicate the tone and inflections of the songs effectively. The instrumental playing, on rhythm instruments, guitars or piano seems much more their own and is dynamic and highly skilled.

Emanuele Angeletti is a charming and energetic Paul with excellent guitar skills and a powerful voice which also accommodates the more plangent numbers. As George, John Brosnam sings superbly but also displays tremendous virtuosity on a range of guitars and is a delight to listen to in the instrumental riffs.

Luke Roberts maintains a strong beat and has evidently acquired a fan club who call "Ringo, Ringo" from the higher reaches of the theatre. Reuven Gershon looks like John in build and facial appearance and has a strong, gritty voice, effective in well known numbers. He hasn’t quite found a way to replicate John’s combination of charm and cheek, as in the Royal Variety Performance of 1963 with the Queen Mother in attendance. "Would the people in the cheaper seats clap your hands. And the rest of you, if you’ll just rattle your jewellery."

As one of the oldies in the audience, the song that really hit me was "When I’m 64". In my twenties, 64 seemed an unimaginable and unlikely age to reach. But here I am now looking back on it. This is a wonderful trip down memory lane for those of us who have lived through the intervening decades, but also for much younger fans who realise how very special the group was and are just as enthusiastic.

Reviewer: Velda Harris