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  • Miles Hedley

THE MERSEY BEATLES at Woolwich Works

For an evening of joyful nostalgia, The Mersey Beatles’ gig at Woolwich Works was hard to, well, beat. And age was no barrier to loving this fab foray into the Fab Four’s back catalogue – youngsters in the multi-generational crowd were as word perfect as the most grizzled old fans as we sang along to some of the greatest hits ever written by anyone.

The concert, marking the 60th anniversary of a Beatles’ concert at the Woolwich Grand, was a breathless musical journey that followed John, Paul, George and Ringo from their legendary residency at Liverpool’s Cavern club to global megastardom.

Over the course of two hours and with the aid of iconic costumes, age-appropriate equipment and a neat line in Scouse wit, The Mersey Beatles played 35 of their heroes’ blockbuster hits. And it had the fitter among us dancing in the aisles.

The band – Liverpudlians Mark Bloor, Steven Howard, Brian Ambrose and Craig McGown – have been playing together for more than 20 years and their experience really showed in the tightness and skill of their tremendous performance.

The first half of the show took in the years up to and including Revolver – the glory days of the three-minute pop song which The Beatles turned into a bona fide artform.

So in rapid succession we were treated to I Saw Her Standing There, Love Me Do, Please Please Me, From Me To You, Do You Want To Know A Secret, She Loves You, It Won’t Be Long, All My Loving, I Want To Hold Your Hand, A Hard Day’s Night, Can’t Buy Me Love, Help!, Eight Days A Week, Yesterday, In My Life, Day Tripper, Got To Get You Into My Life and Twist And Shout.

They even included a couple of covers of songs The Beatles loved – Lieber and Stoller’s Some Other Guy and Chuck Berry’s Roll Over Beethoven.

After the break we moved into the era of psychedelia, starting with songs from the world-changing Sgt Pepper LP and going through to the near-perfect album Abbey Road. Because of the growing complexity of the songs, The Mersey Beatles were joined on stage by keyboard wizard Tony Cook.

What followed was a masterclass in how to play masterpieces as the band gave us Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, With A Little Help From My Friends, Penny Lane, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Hello Goodbye, All You Need Is Love, A Day In The Life, Yellow Submarine, Here Comes The Sun, Dear Prudence, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Come Together, Revolution and Get Back.

The versions of A Day In The Life and Come Together in particular were nothing less than sensational.

Inevitably – and quite properly – the encore was the karaoke favourite Hey Jude, which nearly blew the roof off the auditorium as the sell-out audience sang the Na-na-na-na-na-na-na chorus till we were hoarse.

And look at what they had to leave out: Ticket To Ride, Lady Madonna, Strawberry Fields Forever, Let It Be, I Am The Walrus, Magical Mystery Tour, Something, Helter Skelter – the list goes on and on. What a legacy! And what a fab tribute!


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