‘Twist and Shout’

Smriti Daniel saw them standing there and reports on a hard day’s night of Beatle mania. Pix by Gemunu Wellage

The Beatles - it’s taken their audience over four decades to calm down enough to actually listen to them sing live. But let’s not be hasty, I’m entirely certain I would have howled like a dog at the moon if it was actually John, Paul, Ringo and George there, instead of four guys in wigs and suits. But this was the next best thing.

The Beatle look a likes, who were down from the U.K, played at Parkstreet Mews last weekend to an unexpectedly large, diverse audience. Belying Lennon’s prior claim, this is the band that “Paul” - Peter Bailey – founded nearly 10 years ago. Unfortunately, “John” has proved himself imminently replaceable more than once, and so in this line up the role is sung by the fresh faced Reuven Gershon, the newest member of The Counterfeit Beatles. “Ringo” Gordon Elsmore, and “George” Martin Savill are old hands.

The four men take their jobs pretty seriously. Beatles’ tribute bands are thick on the ground where they come from, and the Beatle look a likes wear wigs and costumes. Still, Gordon couldn’t pass for a young Ringo in broad daylight – for one his hair is entirely white with age and for another he’s charmingly stout - but never underestimate the powers of a good wig. “This is the best line up we’ve had,” says Peter, explaining that good Beatle impersonators are hard to find – “some can sing, but can’t play; some play but don’t sing, others just don’t look the part.”

Sitting down with the Mirror Magazine prior to the concert, Peter reveals that he has played over a 1000 Beatles concerts, but the music never grows stale. The same is true of Reuvon, who says he’s been a fan of the Beatles since he was a 10 year old. Though the men make a living impersonating their idols, they haven’t really studied them – they leave that sort of thing to those enrolled in the Masters Degree program on The Beatles in Liverpool. Instead, decades of being ardent fans have helped them effortlessly mimic John, Paul, Ringo and George, says Martin. All of them do other things as well, Gordon for instance is a session musician, who with another tribute group “The Paperback Beatles,” has performed at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall. Reuvon is an actor and has worked on Broadway, playing both Lennon and Buddy Holly. He’s even had his arm around McCartney.

Up there on stage, the band really threw themselves into it. Clearly the Beatles never had to tailor costumes to tropical conditions, and under the spotlights, the band drips sweat into their iconic Abbey Road Beatle outfits.

The group are nothing if not accessible. (You can have them over to sing at your party, like Liam Gallagher of Oasis did, says Peter.) That night the band played four sets, approaching the albums chronologically. The first set was built around early Beatles favourites with tracks like "Love Me Do" and "I Wanna Hold Your Hand". The second set covered songs from the ‘Rubber Soul’ album through to ‘Revolver.’ The third set covered the Sergeant Pepper phase of psychedelic coloured guitars, longer hair and moustaches through to the White album and included songs like"Back in the USSR ," and "Drive My Car". The fourth set was drawn from the ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Let It Be’ era. For their encore they went all the way back to play ‘Twist and Shout,’ and ‘Johnny B. Goode.’

The crowd dancing up front never let up, but some of the most memorable moments at the concert came when the band slowed down a little. Their lovely rendition of "Let it Be" had the whole crowd singing along, and "Hey Jude," and "Yesterday," triggered a surge of nostalgia. We lifted our hands in the air, we waved cell phones and lit lighters, and under this glorious sky we sang out loud. With all these voices raised in song around me, I felt as comforted, as reassured as I ever had felt – “there is still a light that shines on me, shine on till tomorrow, let it be.”

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