Touring – reviewed at Cadogan Hall, London
This concert- style show highlights the diversity and range of music that The Beatles produced in a lightly entertaining way.
If you want to pop down ‘The Long and Winding Road’ into musical nostalgia about what exactly made The Beatles such an important part of British music history, then All You Need is Love is certainly an entertaining way to do so.
With the help of The National Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the cast playing the Fab Four engagingly explore the full variety of music the group produced throughout their time together, from popular hits such as ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘Penny Lane’ all the way through lesser-known songs (or not familiar to me at least) such as ‘Norwegian Wood’.
What is strong about this show is the way in which The National Philharmonic Concert Orchestra highlights the intricacies of each song to give them extra depth. This works particularly well during numbers such as ‘Eleanor Rigby’, ‘Yesterday’ and ‘The Long and Winding Road’, complementing the lyrics nicely and highlighting emotional depth. Conducted with great energy by Martin Herman, the orchestra is enthusiastic, working well alongside the four actor-musicians.
Performed in a concert style, All You Need is Love features a series of projections that while clever during some of the more quirky numbers such as ‘I am the Walrus’, can prove a bit of a distraction during the more heartfelt numbers. But the straightforward and simple style of the show allows the music and performances to shine out, making the songs sound fresh – giving the audience exactly what they want.
Meanwhile, the performances of Emanuele Angeletti (Paul McCartney), John Brosnan (George Harrison), Paul Canning (John Lennon) and Luke Roberts (Ringo Starr) are natural and engaging – without ever making the audience feel that they were simply watching a tribute to The Beatles. You get a real sense of just how much they all enjoy performing these songs. It was Canning’s performance as John Lennon that really stood out for me – his poignant rendition of ‘Imagine’ is a real highlight of the show. It is a performance that was witty and charming in an understated way that was a delight to watch. But it has to be said that all four of them managed to keep the show effectively lively and entertaining throughout.
Overall, All You Need is Love might not offer any major surprises, but it is still a warm and nostalgic show that will be enjoyed by fans of The Beatles.