Churchill Theatre, Bromley – until 30 January 2016
Guest reviewer: Bhakti Gajjar
Let It Be, kicking off its tour in Bromley this week, serves as a remarkable reminder of The Beatles’ story. Tracing the band’s beginnings in The Cavern club in Liverpool, it follows the soon to be named Fab Four on their fast track to greatness, hurtling to London and America and on to packed stadium tours, taking the audience with them on this journey.
The art of writing a truly great pop song requires some genius. Although many attempt it, only a handful manage to get it right – with The Beatles creating an entire catalogue of hits, incredibly over only a decade. On top of this, to be a great performer is even harder, requiring immense commitment and enthusiasm on stage along with an almost unified consensus from the entire band on the direction of travel.
Watching Let It Be, it is difficult to avoid comparing the career of this great band to the artists of today. That The Beatles managed to achieve such success and heights of adulation largely on their own merit – without teams of songwriters and stylists manufacturing hits for them – only adds to the depth of their impact upon popular music.
John (Iain Hornal), Paul (Paul Canning), George (John Brosnan) and Ringo (Luke Roberts) illustrate the life of The Beatles through a series of different performances. As the sets change, so do hairstyles and outfits, remaining true to the essence of the band’s personality at any moment in time.
There are highlights aplenty, including an ambitious recreation of the band’s performance at The Royal Variety Performance, with the original 1960’s footage from that show playing above the live musicians on stage. The company’s attention to detail is astounding with each band member mimicking their character’s mannerisms. We recognise Ringo’s head movements, George’s dancing around the stage and even the singers’ stances behind the microphones.
As the show progresses we see Lennon become slightly more reserved, Harrison more confident and Starr more present – while McCartney, by contrast, remains largely unchanged.
Paul Canning’s performance of Blackbird is hauntingly beautiful. But the standout performance, that brings the audience to its feet, is of While My Guitar Gently Weeps. John Brosnan recreates Eric Clapton’s guitar solo with such mastery that it fully grips the audience in its magnificence.
Let It Be proves to be a wonderfully unexpected show, guaranteed to thrill not just fans of The Beatles, but anyone with an appreciation of their great music and showmanship.
Runs until 30th January, then on tourReviewer: Bhakti GajjarPhoto credit: David Munn Photography