If this piece of footage from 1969 makes your heart beat a little faster, you are probably of the same generation as me; children in the sixties, rather than of them.
I grew up on the Beatles music. We sang their songs in the playground, played at being the Beatles, though sometimes it had to be the Stones, as one girl, Wendy, was a fan. We danced to them in our sitting rooms, and bought packets of bubble gum so we could collect photocards of them. I remember a bus ride with my friend Sue back to her house to listen to the LP she had saved up to buy – Rubber Soul. They were in the firmament of my world along with the Brownies, learning my times tables, walking my dog and the Famous Five.
So going to the Savoy Theatre the other night to see a performance of Let It Be was somewhat surreal. The music and the performances brought back those childhood memories with a dislocating force. I say dislocating, because there I was, someone who has been comfortably in my prime for a number of years, trying to square the fact that I was sitting staidly in a theatre seat with all the emotional, sensory, stirring memories evoked; remembering so clearly what it felt like to be a child growing up in 60s Britain when London swung, and this was a foretaste how our lives were going to be.
It was like time travel. And for me, a lot more fun than Proust’s madeleine biscuit.
The show is an almost non-stop performance of songs, and to compound the time travel feeling, they span the whole decade when the Beatles dominated the charts, so you see and hear through the music how they grew up too, how their interests changed and diversified and the lyrics became increasingly sophisticated and often poetic.
The actor singer who plays Paul McCartney was the one who looked most like the original, but it was evident they had watched hours of footage of the Beatles and with the exception of ‘George’ who did not convince me – hunched shoulders, a bit too cheesy and a terrible wig – it was uncanny to see those familiar McCartney headshakes, Ringo’s hair moving like a high hat, the teeth bared singing style of Lennon, even the Lennon chewing gum while singing phase, presumably after he gave up smoking.
After the interval the audience had loosened up a bit, and by the end, most of the house was on its feet. But my tip to the producers if they want audience participation, and they seem to, is to cut the number of times when the house lights are turned on the stalls. Most of us are happier dancing in the gloom these days. There were some younger members in the audience, but the demographic was firmly made up of people who remember the sixties.
Great fun, a good night out and oh my, the nostalgia…
My Beatles albums are getting a good spin this weekend.