When does a tribute band become more than just that?
The Bootleg Beatles have a long history, established in 1980 with over 4000 shows under their belts, they have plenty of experience to draw on. These guys provide a level of performance which is elevated beyond what most tribute bands bring to the table.
Bootleg Beatles, live in Manila…
Most folks associate these types of shows as being a bit corny or simply some hack-job pub entertainment. But Steve White as McCartney, Adam Hastings as Lennon, Stephen Hill as Harrison and Gordon Elsmore as Starr take this genre to another whole level, arguably the best in the business. There are a few key factors that set them apart.
Bootleg Beatles, live in Manila…
The musicality of the concert itself, there were no pre-recorded backtracks, which most bands need when it comes to duplicating Beatles stuff, especially Sgt Pepper tracks, with a deeply layered sound, it can be tricky to reproduce them without a hitch.
A small orchestra on-stage to accompany the band, there were string instruments, and a brass section, all performing in harmony, well done indeed.
Hailing from Britain, their accents come across as authentic, of course you can fake an accent, but unless you’re a seasoned professional actor, it usually shows.
All the theatrical props where right there, with three outfit changes for the night to represent the various stages of the Beatles career; black suits with mop-top wigs, psychedelic overcoats, and the more casual dress hippie years. They also had all the guitars you’d see the originals play, with an array of instruments that would make any aficionado envious.
What really impressed me, really what makes them stand out, was the level of dedication of each of the members and their management. It’s often the tiny details that make the difference in the big picture, and these guys not only matched the music but the mannerisms.
Hastings carried a posture and distinct nasal sound that was so reminiscent of Lennon, surreal at times. The fashion in which Hill moved about the stage and spoke to the crowd like Harrison would himself and his profile was nearly identical. Gordans work on the drums was just as Ringo was on the kit with his mop top along for the ride.
It even felt “real” in the way they interacted with the crowd in between songs, no scripted words, just emoting what comes to mind, something that their represented character might do and say. Steve who plays McCartney, speaks in a somewhat syncopated fashion with an intonation just as Paul does.
Interesting, to discover that he also had to learn how to play left handed guitar, being naturally right handed. And even wears a bracelet as McCartney would, which creates a mannerisms of lifting the arm slightly to shake the bracelet back down his wrist to keep it out of the way when playing.
The nearly sold out crowd, enjoyed a pleseant overall flow, interesting video, a solid setlist and even a few solos as they coordinated the backstage costume changes. It certainly is a well done show, theatric in nature, but without the feeling of theatrics, if that makes any sense.
It was like they weren’t forcing it, more of the opposite, the music seem to naturally flow from these artists, perhaps as you would see from the real Beatles. You could feel it through the sound itself, sounds crazy but true.
If you ever want to experience what a “tribute band” should be, catch this band in action. I’ve seen a few of these in my day and most don’t match up, but this group knocked it out of the park. Well done!