11th December 2011
Edinburgh Usher Hall
In the twelvemonth between the last time Daughter and I saw The Bootleg Beatles and this occasion, they had lost (and had to replace) Bootleg John. For after 21 years, Neil Harrison had decided to leave the ensemble to 'bring the average age down a bit'. What had apparently made Harrison’s mind up was the fact he had realised he had spent more of his adult life being John Lennon, than not being him (if you see what I mean).
The new Bootleg John, I was amused to note, was a Geordie so guessed mastering the accent may be a greater challenge than mastering the songs. But the transition, I have to say appeared seamless.
The newcomer did, however, persist with the “Clap your hands, Stamp your feet” routine, which the Real John would perform. Having read Philip Norman’s epic biography of Lennon, I knew about the Beatle’s discomfort in dealing with handicapped people; this (on the surface) light-hearted mockery of physical disability being his way of coping. I am willing to accept perhaps Norman got things a touch wrong here, but nevertheless seeing the act replicated onstage in these more enlightened times did leave me rather uncomfortable.
As to the set list, well it deviated very little from the previous years’. Not really surprising I suppose, as I should imagine 90% of the repertoire of any Beatles tribute act would pick itself. I did get to hear one of my own favourites played this time around: I Feel Fine. I could, however, probably have lived without If I Needed Someone and Don’t Let Me Down.
There was an almost audible sigh of collective apprehension from the audience when the BBs launched into the opening to She’s So Heavy, for I doubt if even the most rabid Beatles' fan would wish to sit through a tribute act rendition of this one. But, almost as if the band felt our dismay, proceedings swiftly morphed into Come Together after a few bars.
The other notable change from last year’s show was we had to endure Mull of Kin-bloody-tyre (complete with bagpipes) as the first encore. Thankfully, proceedings closed with the BBs Back in the USSR.
Daughter And I (or more accurately, Daughter) decided not to attend the 2012 Xmas show; she having chosen to save her pennies to purchase tickets to see Olly Murs instead. There is perhaps a parable in there somewhere about “every generation throwing a hero up the pop chart”, but I cannot be bothered to explore it.
I am just glad she is now of an age where she can attend concerts with her own friends, so I may be spared the Essex Boy.
Setlist (may have missed a couple)
I Wanna Hold Your Hand
All My Loving
Roll Over Beethoven
She Loves You
I Feel Fine
Can’t Buy Me Love
I Saw Her Standing There
Eight Days a Week
If I Needed Someone
Twist and Shout
Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends
Strawberry Fields Forever
Magical Mystery Tour
I am The Walrus
The Fool on the Hill (instrumental version by the orchestra)
All You need is Love
Don’t Let Me Down
Here Comes The Sun
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
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