The Bootleg Beatles @Ancienne Belgique, Brussels – 26 September 2014
concert review by Ioana Nica
Before the rock’n’roll period, there was no such thing as the idea of “cover version”. In fact, the songs were written with the very goal of being performed by as many artists as possible and these artists were in no case the same as the songwriters. The song was the center of attention while the artists were just bringing on their personal touch. The paradigm changed completely in the ‘60s, once the songwriters started performing their own songs. The Beatles started their carrier learning how to play and perform other peoples’ song during their famous and almost “training camp” tour in Hamburg, then started composing their early material in the very traditional American mainstream pop style of those times, to end up finding their own path as artists and later on building their own solo careers. Quite a legacy, difficult to carry on or duplicate by anybody else.
Being quite reluctant to cover or tribute bands, I was even more hesitant with the idea of going to a Beatles homage show despite hearing only good things about it. I must say I do not see the point of copying a band unless there is really something authentic brought on the table, like it’s the case with Dread Zeppelin or Beatallica. But The Bootleg Beatles is something completely different.
So, what’s so interesting about it …
If you want to know more about the members, all you might find is their names. Although the group goes back in the ‘80s and changed its members since then, their webpage does not offer any biography or personal data. That’s because The Bootleg Beatles is not about themselves, it’s plain and simple about … The Beatles.
The format of the concert is based on four mini-shows, each of them corresponding to four periods. Four sets of more than two hours in total, intermissioned by video footages and projections, related to the specific context of those times. Each set of songs are performed by being dressed up in specific costumes and wearing amazingly accurate make-ups. More than 30 songs and we should not forget the string band performing in the back.
The early material and Beatlemania (Act I)
The first set is focused on the starting career, the touring years and the Beatlemania phenomenon. They came on the stage dressed in suits, with mop style haircuts, all smiling, ready to start a journey through the early and most popular hits of the era. A very convincing Paul McCartney finished the set with Yesterday just like later on, a no less convincing George Harrison will finish the another set with When My Guitar Gently Weeps.
♦ A Hard Day’s Night
♦ Any Time at All
♦ She Loves You
♦ Please Please Me
♦ Roll Over Beethoven (Chuck Berry cover)
♦ This Boy
♦ Can’t Buy Me Love
♦ I Wanna Be Your Man (The Rolling Stones cover)
♦ I Saw Her Standing There
Shea Stadium and the beginnings of the studio era (Act II)
After a short intermission which kept us entertained with video montages of Dedicated Folower of Fashion by The Kinks and Wild Thing by The Troggs, here it comes the second set, centered on a milestone for The Beatles’ career, the end of the touring years with the most probably first major stadium concert in history of pop music.
♦ Twist and Shout
♦ And Your Bird Can Sing
♦ Nowhere Man
♦ Drive My Car
♦ Paperback Writer
♦ Day Tripper
The psychedelic era (Act III)
An intermission with a video montage of See Emily Play by Pink Floyd was announcing beyond doubt the coming songs from Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, to be continued with a flavor of the Magical Mystery Tour. A huge Sgt. Pepper’s album cover projected in the background, the well-know eccentric costumes and psychedelic projection during Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds.
♦ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
♦ With a Little Help from My Friends
♦ Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds
♦ Penny Lane
♦ I Am the Walrus
♦ All You Need Is Love
♦ While My Guitar Gently Weeps
On the Abbey Road towards the rooftop concert via The White Album (Act IV)
A last intermission, some Rolling Stones music and we travel back in time to a Beatles era when the Four Fabs are no longer four boys from Liverpool but authentic artists with concept albums, ambitious tracks and revolutionary ideas.
♦ Oh! Darling
♦ Octopus’s Garden
♦ Here Comes the Sun
♦ Get Back
♦ Let It Be
The encore couldn’t be anything else than Hey Jude and of course the show ended with everybody singing along.
How to not be The Beatles and be The Beatles at the same time
I mean, it’s clear: they are not The Beatles, you know they aren’t because you’re an intelligent person, emotionally stable, who doesn’t fall for a cheap act of Beatles revival or is searching for a pathetic and melancholic come back of what you felt when you first heard the band. But actually, the fact of being aware of all these things is raising their share price. They sounds like The Beatles, are dressed like them, talk like them, copy their gestures, accents and even “Paul McCartney” is left-handed for God’s sake! And however they manage not just to avoid the ridiculousness that one might expect, but to create a very authentic postmodernist act. It brings out the charm in plain sight just for the audience to enjoy it. It’s more than a musical performance, I enjoyed it as much I would enjoy a Shakespeare production. Flawless.
I was not expecting such remarkable performance. I left the venue with a single thought: to see them again. I don’t want to listen to them on youtubes or watch interviews or any other videos, I want to be again as close as possible to this experience. I need to see them once more live. And in UK, if possible.
Full gallery: The Bootleg Beatles @AB – Brussels – 2014/09/26 – Photo reportage by JP Daniels
FACEBOOK: The Bootleg Beatles