When I first saw something on-line about a thing called The Sessions – a live restaging of The Beatles at Abbey Road Studios I thought: “this is geeky beyond normal!”. And If I don’t go there… who will go?
As you know from earlier posts about my (lifelong and obsessed) Beatles interest – not least The Day I met Paul McCartney and recording at Abbey Road myself – this seemed like an opportunity not to miss. And where better to see something Beatles related than at (“now they know how many holes it takes to fill the”) Albert Hall?
I soon found some incredibly expensive VIP tickets for the (already sold out) world premiere and somehow managed to convince my wife Paula to celebrate her birthday there. (She does love the Beatles, but still…).
And so, the day before yesterday, on April Fool’s Day (a day I once sang about here), it happened!
My expectations were realistic, not to mention even somewhat pessimistic. I certainly knew it wasn’t going to be like watching the Beatles themselves (or even a solo Beatle) in real life. And having been involved in many Beatles tributes myself, I’m fully aware of many of the challenges in making the illusion (even remotely) believable. But I was pretty soon relieved to see that they had captured the ambience of the inside of the Abbey Road studio really well. The John impersonation on “All You Need is Love” which kicked off the show wasn’t entirely believable though. It had something to do with the pronunciation, and also with the fact that John’s very distinctive voice has always been a tricky one to find sound-alikes for. But when they went back to the beginnings and kicked of a rockin’ “I Saw Her Standing There” it became clear that this was going to be a high-quality performance. Above all the Paul sound-alike offered quite a few “wow” moments. He sometimes sounded more like a twenty-something years old Paul McCartney than Paul McCartney himself does nowadays. So, songs like “Yesterday”, “Blackbird”, “She’s leaving home”, “Magical Mystery Tour”, and “Helter Skelter” became some of the evening’s finest. But in the end, all performers did a really great job. “George”, for instance, did a beautiful acoustic version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. That was one of the many moments when I just leaned back, “enjoying the show”, thinking about how much The Beatles mean to me and how big part they’ve played in my life. Which of course is nothing new. I’ve even come across on Swedish radio talking about how The Beatles are my religion.
So, to sum it up, the show was highly entertaining and if you’re a Beatles geek, make sure NOT to miss any of the upcoming shows on their tour. It was extremely well-done and accurate in detail. The George Martin character was spot-on (almost as good as this one). It was so good that I have no problem in disregarding the fact that they had gotten the order wrong in the solos of The End, which (as we all know, right?) should be Paul, George, John and not George, Paul, John.
Anyway, just to be anonymous (although fake “VIP” through paying a ridiculous amount of money) and be a “regular” guest doesn’t really suit me. Having met the great Sir George Martin, and performed for Cynthia Lennon, taken selfies with James McCartney, Olivia Harrison (after a McCartney show in London in 2009), and with engineer Ken Scott in Abbey Road Studios (in conjunction with a lecture by the writers behind the incredible Recording the Beatles), it only felt natural and almost strangely “logical” that I would bump into the show’s supervisor Geoff Emerick himself in the corridors of Albert Hall. The sound engineer on Revolver (the best record ever made!) among many many others. A very important person in developing the sound of the Beatles. As concert producer and promoter Stig Edgren says: “Geoff is instrumental to the aspect of authenticity because nothing that you see or hear in the show is fabricated. We’re not fictionalising what it was like in the studio. For every song we have a schematic drawing on where the members of the Beatles were, where the vocal booths were, where the instruments were.”. So, as you can understand, Geoff Emerick is THE GUY. I can certainly recommend his book Here There and Everywhere: My Life Recording the Music of the Beatles. It’s an amazingly entertaing book who brings you inside the studio with the Beatles in a way that no other book that I can remember does. It doesn’t deal with family histories, groupies, business, tours, drugs, and all that other (also interesting) stuff. It focuses on the recording of the music in a unique way. And I don’t think you have to be a musician to enjoy it.
When I spotted Geoff, of course I asked (kindly, I hope) for the possibility of a selfie together with him. He was very nice, and willingly accepted to pose in a picture. I presented myself as a “musician from Sweden” (which is true, right?) and I handed him my flyer for my debut album Soundshine. He looked at it and jokingly said “–I will frame this!”. So I’m hoping that beside his multi-platinum discs for Revolver, Sgt Pepper, and Abbey Road he will now have on his living room wall, framed, the flyer of the Paul McCartney of Piteå, David Myhr.
All in all, a Friday evening in my taste!!!