zaterdag 4 februari 2017

The Analogues plays Sgt. Pepper. Schouwburg Velsen, Thursday 2 February 2017

Photo: Wo.
Right after seeing the 'Magical Mystery Tour' tour we bought tickets to the 'Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band' tour. 9 months later finally the moment was there. Mesmerising describes the show best. The Analogues searched for and found the limits of what is reproducible on stage of what The Beatles were able to record. No matter how primitive the recording techniques in 1966 and 67, The Beatles worked with state of the art machines in its days and pushed that beyond the max. Like Geoff Emerick said, after John announced that The Beatles would never tour again in the fall of 1966, he also challenged each and everyone involved in making The Beatles records to start making music that had never been made before. They could do anything, as it would never be reproduced live.....until The Analogues came along that is.

'Sgt. Peppers ...' never was my favourite album by The Beatles. That is and probably always will be 'Abbey Road'. The Analogues tour of 2019 is my guess. 'Sgt. Peppers...' does come in second though. Taken at face value, it contains a collection of great, weird, way out there, old time songs (even for 1967) and eternal beauty to go. There's so much going on that it's so easy to forget how much actually. I had taken most of the music for granted as I "knew" the music in and out. Can dream it. Yet I was so surprised. In ways Paul McCartney did not surprise me while playing some of the same songs five years ago in Ahoy, Rotterdam.

Why? He leaves things out or recreates them through modern digital instruments. In Velsen/IJmuiden I kept running into the problem that I simply do not have ears nor eyes enough to keep up with the things happening on stage. The production was even larger than in 2016. A grand total of 15 people were needed to play things, including a harpist for only two songs. A switch from violin to saxophone? Why not? Flutes for 10 seconds and a few notes at most? Sure. Harmonicas, Indian instruments, a spinet, an Italian wind organ, a mellotron, you name it, it was rolled on stage. The Analogues is a multi 100k euros production, including the great painted truck in the picture.

The Analogues played through a divers set of songs before the main dish. All of a sudden there were four band members behind a microphone, no instruments. The string section of the orchestra was in place though. In other words, there are The Beatles songs that not a single Beatle was playing an instrument on, e.g. 'Eleanor Rigby'. Something which is obvious, but when seen live, that message gets another dimension. 'Fool On The Hill': where's that flute coming from? Just a few notes, but there in the corner of the stage two of the horn section are blowing on flutes, just seen in time. The enormous power of 'Magical Mystery Tour' and above all 'I'm The Walrus' was proven yet again. The arrangements attesting to the fact that George Martin was close to being the fifth Beatle, tie, suit and all.

With the introduction of three songs of 'The Beatles' or 'The White Album' as it's better known, next year's tour was announced. How will The Analogues get around 'Revolution #9"? I can only wonder. With an excerpt of the ending suite of 'Abbey Road', yes, this is our classical music alright, the lights went out, the curtain lowered, to which an interview with Geoff Emerick was shown, telling us about the way the album the show focused on came about.

Photo 2016: Wo.
The orchestra played the tuning up sounds at the beginning of the album and The Analogues bursts into the title song. So powerful, direct and in your face. Yes, we were about to go for a show that will never go out of style. The lamest song of the album, in my opinion, 'With A Little Help From My Friends' came so much alive. Here the strength of The Analogues was in plain view as far as I'm concerned. It brings something alive which has never lived before in a live setting. The Beatles fans of all ages can finally listen to their favourite music in a setting it simply did not exist in ever before. My guess is that this show could tour the world, forever, if that was this band's ambition.

The Analogues took us from the psychedelic rock of 'Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds' past the classic pop of 'She's Leaving Home' to the light-weighted, yet so beautiful 'Lovely Rita' to the rocking finale of the reprise 'Sgt. Peppers...'. And no it did not end there, no matter how hard the theatre was clapping and cheering.

In between during 'The Benefit Of Mr. Kite' it became clear that this song with its cut up technique and circus and carnival sounds, that even for The Analogues there is an utter border of what is reproducible analogously. The band managed, but only just. That made the rendition even more laudable. It was pulled of.

The song we all, secretly, skipped, as drummer Fred said, 'Within You, Without You', live became a song that got another dimension. Having skipped it so many times, I noticed for the first time the intricate string arrangement within the song. More or less everything Plant & Page did on their 90s tour, following their MTV show, was spelled out here I found. And that my son was right all along: It is a great song.

Photo: Wo.
How to reproduced a four times recorded 40 person orchestra? That challenge faced The Analogues for the staging of 'A Day In The Live'. Well, go to the Abbey Road studios themselves and record there. And so the two crescendos came alive in a grandiose way. What struck me is how well the two parts of the song, the John and the Paul part, stuck together, worked live. And no, no applause yet when the grandiose last chord is played before it has totally faded away, please!!!

Finally we got to older hits as an encore, 'A Hard Days Night' and 'Eight Days A Week'. My first self-bought single was up next, a and b side. 'Hey Jude' will always be one of my favourite songs, simply because it was my first single, on a higher level, because it is a great song, period. And how special The Beatles were, was proven, once again, in the final song that was played, 'Revolution'. One of the fiercest rockers by the band, all guitar, but somewhere there is a piano and that instrument gets the solo. Every other band would have chucked in another guitar solo. Not The Beatles. Never take the easy road and that is what sets The Beatles apart from all the other bands of the era and far and wide beyond.

It ended an evening that did not have the impact the Analogues had on me last year. That is impossible as I knew what to expect. That factor also made it less emotional. Yet, this is so unique. This music is a part of my DNA and I get to live it live. Each cell in my body responding to the music, the tunes, the harmonies and all these noises and sounds in between. The Analogues may be the best band in the world right now, playing the best pop music ever made.

1 June 2017. It will be 50 years ago today 'Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band' was released. (That makes it 70 for Billy Shears.) Something is going to happen world wide. In Amsterdam it will be something involving The Analogues and many other guests. Watch the news, folks. It may be a one off not to miss.


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