Sunday 21 October 2018

The Liverpool Band, from a Liverpool Boy

Earlier this year I saw a show by The Liverpool Band, not in Liverpool but in Denia in Spain. It turns out these four incredible musicians are from the Alicante area, so the Condado venue, a former cinema in 
Denia´s high street, is more or less home ground.

Watchy Watchy is what too many substandard bands in Spain use to fill in for the English lyrics they cannot understand and/or cannot be bothered to learn.  Happily there was absolutely no Watchy Watchy from the Liverpool Band as they sang every song with perfectly accurate content and with fantastically clear diction. My admiration for this quartet grew by the minute as they showed their complete mastery of the Beatles catalogue and their own skills as instrumentalists and singers.

This was a long show, starting with those amazing 3 minute wonders from the early sixties, perfect gems that are over almost before they have begun: they had to because that was all that would fit onto one side of a 45rpm single record. Then the band moved on to the later material from the White Album and Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and they played and sang with effortless ease those polyrhythmic figures and complex harmonies, one song after another without putting a foot wrong.
I do not know the names of the members of The Liverpool Band but apparently they started in 1997 and have been working continuously on this material since, and it shows. In between versions of complete songs they played little fragments of so many other songs, teasers for another gig, another night. I am full of admiration for their individual musical skills and for their superb ensemble togetherness as well as their perfect vocal harmonies: there seems to be nothing these musicians cannot do.

As the gig I saw was in the summer there were many Brits in the audience and I suppose many of us have Beatles stories to tell. I enjoyed a Paul McCartney concert in Madrid in the nineties and that took me back to early days of listening to the Wings albums, trying to contain the guilt at enjoying this music which was the result of the break up of the Fab Four.

In 1963, I believe it was, The Beatles returned to Liverpool from their first triumphant tour to the USA. This was a historic moment because the popular music charts had up to then been the absolute domain of American artists such as Perry Como, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, and here were these four young men from Liverpool who had broken the mould, taking over the highest places in the pop charts the world over, and especially significantly, in the USA. You have to remember that the Liverpool of that time was drab, grey and still showing the scars of the tragic effects of the 1939-1945 war. How could they have dared to achieve so much?

On the day the band returned to Liverpool there was a line of people on the streets from the airport to the city centre: I know because I was one of them. As my memory has it, and I could be wrong, I walked, or rather I was taken, since I was only 6 years old, along to the main road where they were due to pass by, and waited a hugely long time until finally a cavalcade of big black cars drove by. The window of one of the cars was partly open and a hand appeared through the window to wave. The hand belonged to Paul, or maybe George or John or Ringo… or maybe one of their assistants, and then they were gone. 
Many years later Paul McCartney gave one of his free concert at the Liverpool riverside, called the Pier Head, and someone my age was there with her teenage daughters. When the great man appeared on the stage there was near hysterical applause before even a note had sounded. One of the teenage daughters said: What are they all clapping for, he hasn´t done anything yet. To which her mother replied: It’s not about tonight, it´s about the last 50 years that everyone is applauding.
All these memories of the original Beatles only go to increase my respect and admiration for The Liverpool Band, and I look forward to catching up with them the next time I am in Denia.


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