18-23 January 2016
Reviewed by Keith Mitchell
The Mayflower Theatre in Southampton is easily accessible from the motorway and well served with multi storey car parks nearby. Plenty of places to eat around the area to suit all pockets.
The theatre has a nice, light, fresh looking foyer which for this production had plenty of front of House staff available, all knowledgeable and happy to help in any way. This gives the impression of a slick operation. The auditorium and balcony all have excellent views of the stage and great acoustics. Both have a bar that although busy have adequate staff to keep queuing to a minimum.
So on to the show. Not many empty seats show how popular the music still is and the audience, though mainly of a certain age, still had a fair number of young people and a few children. Titled Let It Be, a celebration of the music of the Beatles, the show has been around a while now and is on tour, worldwide. The souvenir programme is packed with glossy photos, details of the band’s history and pen pictures of the cast. Before the show starts you can’t help noticing 2 big screens depicting television fronts from the 60’s either side of an old radio front hanging over the stage, both of which bring back memories. These television screens show black and white news footage, adverts from the era and quiz questions for you to test your Beatles knowledge. Good fun and for those of a certain age, a flood of memories.
The show opens with a brief visit to the Cavern Club days, violin shaped bass, Rickenbacker’s definitely a good start with I Saw Her Standing There, Please Me and It Won’t Be Long. Quick change of clothes and more of the newsreels etc. On to good old classics like She Loves You, I Want to Hold Your Hand, All My Loving, acknowledging the Royal Command performance of the Fab Four. Clips of the invasion of the USA, Shay Stadium with Hard Day’s Night, Can’t Buy Me Love. Roll Over Beethoven. A solo from ‘Paul’ on acoustic guitar for Yesterday, then a rousing batch of songs including Help I Feel Fine, Twist and Shout , with the audience encouraged to stand , sing clap and dance along finishing with Day Tripper.
A quick clothing change and on with Sgt Pepper, which was a little weak as ‘Paul’s mike seemed be quite quiet. ‘Ringo’ giving a rendition of With a Little Help from My Friends and great rendition of Yellow Submarine. Beautiful Eleanor Rigby with strings backing, followed by a crackling Lucy in the Skies with Diamonds. When I’m Sixty Four and a reprise of Sgt Pepper and A Day in the Life rounded off a good first half.
Second half cranks up the audience nicely with Magical Mystery Tour, All You Need is Love, Penny Lane, ‘Paul’s mike problem a distant memory. A stunning Strawberry Fields follows on. Next is ‘Paul’, again on acoustic, with Blackbird which went down a storm. It’s time for all four members down the front for Here Comes the Sun and There are Places I Remember. On to Yellow Submarine and a fabulous rendition of While My Guitar Gently Weeps, starting on acoustic and mightily hammered by ‘George’ with great aplomb on electric guitar for the powerful solo. I love that song and over the years have heard some good, some downright awful, some average and some absolutely nailed on top drawer versions. Well done, that was a cracker, up there with the best! Through the hippy era with Come Together, She Came in Through the Bathroom Window and Carry That Weight from the Abbey Road album. Nice touch with ‘Ringo drumming with flashing lights. All to soon though the story ends… a standing ovation from the audience and encore time. Torches and phone lights out for Let it Be and so to Get Back, much stomping singing and clapping time for us leading in to Revolution. Off they go to another ovation and …. back again for a 2nd encore… has to be ….Hey Jude. At the end the guys danced around on stage to Saw Her Standing There, clearly having had a great time themselves.
I have to say the performers are fine singers and musicians in their own right and did an excellent job on the Beatles catalogue, with good back up from the keyboard player. Many authentic clothes changes, slickly done, the newsreels a nice touch to provide interest while these happen, giving a feel of part documentary part concert, playing the songs with great enthusiasm, loads of audience participation due to that enthusiasm. If you like Beatles music then this show is a MUST for you. A few songs missing from the programme playlist and others added but hey, difficult to give a feel for the whole era of The Beatles without playing every song they ever wrote. I think looking at the audience as they left everyone came out having had a great evening’s entertainment. If you can get to this show in Southampton this week, don’t miss the opportunity, I highly recommend it.
Definitely 5 stars.
Tickets cost from £23 to £36.50 (booking fees may apply).
Let It Be is at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton until 23 January 2016. For more information or to book tickets click here or call the box office on 02380 711811.
Mayflower Theatre, Commercial Road, Southampton, SO15 1GE | 02380 711811