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LET IT BE – PALACE THEATRE, MANCHESTER – REVIEW FRIDAY 28 FEBRUARY – SATURDAY 8 MARCH

The Beatles Manchester secret gigLet it Be – a musical straight from the West End – has brought the greatest music from the greatest band of all time to the Palace Theatre, Manchester.

The show, which runs until Saturday 8 March, is a non-stop roller-coaster ride through 40 of the fab four’s best-known songs, played by a talented troupe of actor-musicians.

WFM’s reviewer joined theatregoers on Monday this week and saw the show’s cast and  sound, set, lighting and video designers pull out all the stops to deliver a feast for the ear and eye, making this show much more than just another tribute band performance.

Let it Be (the name of the show and of the band) served up a nostalgia-fest for anyone who was there, or who wishes they were there, when four Liverpool lads conquered the world.

The show opened with an attractively minimalist grey set, representing The Cavern, birthplace of the Beatles.Later costume and set changes reflected how the decade turned from black and white to the colours of psychedelia.

The show drew an audience of all ages and, even though the Beatles and some of their  fans are pensioners now, the audience for Let it Be in Manchester didn’t need to be asked twice to get out of their seats and dance.  They got up slowly, a little self-consciously at first, but this was what they’d come for and before long they were on their feet dancing to Twist and Shout.

As the audience warmed up, there was delight in the opening notes of Here Comes the Sun and real warmth, and perhaps a tear in the eye, as the audience applauded the closing strains of In My Life.

Nobody could fail to enjoy the dazzlingly-staged performance of Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.  Magical Mystery Tour, Revolution, and Back in the USSR blew the cobwebs away and we were reminded how cool and intense the Beatles late sixties music still sounds, when the band played songs like Come Together and While My Guitar Gently Weeps.

The exuberant music of the mop top era Beatles has been much covered by tribute bands. The Beatles stopped touring in 1966 and so, for me, it was hearing and seeing the staging of the later Beatles music – the-never-performed-in-public music – which brought a frisson of thinking, so this is what a Beatles concert in 1967 or 1969 might have been like.

The cast of Let it Be delivered the musical versatility and athleticism needed to rock through one zeitgeist-defining song after another.  The band played live on the same-style instruments as the Beatles.  They offered carefully-studied mannerisms, accurate vocal and instrumental performances, and the classic Beatles harmonies.  It’s no surprise the show requires a rotating cast to keep up.

Michael Gagliano morphed through the various incarnations of John Lennon, channelling Lennon effectively in a sombre A Day in the Life.  James Fox could play Paul McCartney in his sleep – complete with the stage make up of long eyelashes and arching eyebrows – and his singing was excellent throughout.

Ben Cullingworth, as Ringo, hid the fact he was the tallest member of the cast (and the shortest Beatle) behind his drum-kit and he belted out a toe-tapping I Wanna Be Your Man.  I enjoyed John Brosnan playing double denim wearing Abbey Road LP-era George Harrison, complete with convincing long black hair and beard.  His guitar playing gave me the chance to reflect on how impactful was Harrison’s sparse style of electric guitar playing.

After the show ended with a rousing sing-along finale, I think the packed house went home happy, with their cares banished by a few hours of musical magic.

I’d recommend this show to young and old alike.  If you want to smile, to dance, to re-live the bright hopes of an era, and the brilliant, world-changing music of Beatles, all you need is Let it Be! 

Tickets for Let it Be, priced £16.90 to £47.90, are available from the box office.

For information about tickets phone 0844 871 3019 or go to the following website www.atgtickets.com/shows/let-it-be/palace-theatre-manchester

You can hear it played on WFM 97.2 at the following times:

5th March – 14:08pm

6th March – 11:05am

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