All You Need is Love at Cadogen Hall
As a self-confessed Beatles nut, who casts a very critical eye over most attempts to cover, re-imagine, or impersonate the Fab Four; I walked into the Cadogan Hall with a little trepidation about what was billed as the “Ultimate Beatles Experience”. I needn’t have worried.
The concept of having the National Philharmonic Concert Orchestra behind them allowed the band to perform some tracks from the extensive back catalogue of the Beatles that wouldn’t usually be heard in a live setting. This gave the whole performance an air of something unique in the world of Beatles tributes and meant that the band could move away from what would be considered live staples of tracks from the early part of The Beatles’ career. There was no sign of Love Me Do, A Hard Days Night, I Want to Hold Your Hand and a host of many of the other huge hits that you would usually expect to hear. Instead we were treated to airings of lesser heard songs such as Martha My Dear and Being for The Benefit of Mr Kite.
As I took my seat before the performance began, I was immediately put in the mood for the performance as there were strains of artists of the era such as The Kinks and Roy Orbison being played. The stage set-up itself was very reminiscent of the photographs of the band in the famous Studio 2 at Abbey Road, with empty guitar cases, flight cases and the bands guitars all on stands waiting for their arrival. As the house lights went down, the Orchestra came on and played a beautiful instrumental version of In My Life, complete with Harpsichord solo. Then the band wandered out and as they picked up their instruments to launch into the title track, I was struck by the attention to detail that they brought to the performance. Emanuele Angeletti as Paul was playing the famous violin bass guitar and playing left handed, just like Paul. John Brosnan as George had his guitar slung at chest height, Luke Roberts as Ringo was in the signature black turtle neck and was playing a Ludwig drum kit. Paul Canning as John Lennon was wearing the trademark glasses, sat behind the piano chewing his gum and nodding his head looking for all the world like he’d studied John Lennon’s performance of the song on the “Our World” TV show in 1967 and recreated it chew for chew.
The band rocketed through the first half of the show with 15 Beatles songs flying by in the blink of an eye. The band treating us to their best approximations of the Beatles patter between songs, with Paul Canning nailing John Lennon’s acerbic sense of humour with quips like “You’ve been the best London audience so far” and “This song was produced by George Martin, then over-produced by Phil Spector”. The half ended with a rousing rendition of I Am The Walrus with the orchestra somehow faithfully recreating the backwards looped guitars of the original recording using the very talented string section, before the band went off to “grow some facial hair”.
That’s not to say that the first act of the show was perfect. I found the screen hanging behind the orchestra distracting as opposed to adding anything to the experience, and there were some clunky intros into a couple of the songs, with John Brosnan having issues with his guitar not working for the first half of All You Need is Love.
The second act began with a rip-roaring ride through Sgt Pepper’s, with the band really seeming to hit their stride. The distracting screen of the first half actually started to add to the performance in the second half with their psychedelic images marrying perfectly with what was going on onstage. That particular section ending with a version of A Day in The Life that was simply stunning. A short video then introduced the Indian infused section of the band’s career, finishing with another quick costume change and onto the Apple Corps rooftop to finish the show with a rousing singalong version of Hey Jude. 34 classics in just over 2 hours and it absolutely flew by.
The advantage of doing All You Need Is Love in this way is that they have is that a lot of the orchestral songs the Beatles released are very Paul McCartney-centric, which means the show leans heavily on the talents of Emanuele Angeletti, who I felt was the star of the show. He is more than up to the task and at points you could believe that it really was a young Macca up on stage shaking his head and soaring through a fantastic vocal performance. The highlights of the whole show for me being his renditions of both Got to Get You Into My Life in the first half and the Abbey Road Medley of Golden Slumbers, Carry That Weight and The End that closed the show prior to the encore.
All in all, All You Need is Love has something for everyone. It is accessible enough to enthral a casual Beatles fan and enough attention to detail that should leave even the most ardent fan feeling that the show has more than done justice to the source material.
Review by Ben Goodchild
All You Need Is Love tour continues onto Cardiff, Bristol, Eastbourne, Basingstoke and Wolverhampton.