It was back in May this year that I first saw The Cavern Beatles at The Queen’s Hall in Edinburgh, and when they announced at the end of that show that they would be playing The Brunton in Musselburgh later in September I knew that I just had to go and view this band again…not just because they were playing all those classic Beatles songs, but because they were just a great band made up of talented musicians who knew how to entertain an audience for a show.
The Cavern Beatles are as you will have guessed a Beatles tribute band consisting of
John – Paul Tudhope
Paul – Chris O’Neill
George – Rick Alan
Ringo -- Simon Ramsden
With the exception of Simon, all come from Liverpool (but Simon has lived there for many years). Along with that genuine Liverpool accent and humour, great attention to period detail on instruments and equipment means these four musicians pretty much recreate that original sound (I was chatting to someone at the interval who had seen the original Beatles live and they confirmed that). For me, they certainly recreated that sound I grew up listening to on vinyl records and gave it a little twist in adapting some of the later songs as they would probably have sounded had the Beatles ever played them live.
It is always difficult reviewing a tribute band because by their very nature it is hard not to refer to the original source material, and this show is no different in that respect. What of course makes it different is that this is the music of The Beatles and in two sets (one mostly live music songs and the other studio music), The Cavern Beatles packed around 40 songs into this show (you certainly get your money’s worth with this band) that covered some of the best known songs in pop music history. Even then with songs like “She Loves You”, “I Saw Her Standing There”, Ticket to Ride”, “Let it Be”, “Yesterday”, “Hey Jude”, “Penny Lane” “Sgt Peppers” and many others, time still forced even more classics such as “Back in the U.S.S.R” to be left out.
When you watch a very good band like this covering songs, you get the opportunity to view the original work in a way that was never possible at the time, and that is as a more complete work. With The Beatles of course you get to see live what never really happened on stage. It is so easy to forget that, if we ignore the early Hamburg days and that last concert on the Apple Corp building roof, the classic line up of The Beatles actually toured for a pretty short time (even if they did have a massive touring workload) and that their last real live concert was 29 August 1966 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, California. Watching The Cavern Beatles perform these songs live you also get to see what to me is one of the great puzzles of many Beatles songs, and that is that although they often seem to be very simple songs and can be musically de-constructed and re-arranged in almost infinite variations, these are often very complex songs both musically and in their arrangements. To do these songs properly you have to be a very good musician. All these guys pass that test.
It is pretty much impossible, I think, to do a show like this and not miss someone’s favourite Beatles song, but there are just so many standards that The Beatles wrote and they have to find a place in the show as many people expect them to be there. Having said that, it was nice to hear some of the lesser played songs such as “Oh! Darling” and "I Wanna be Your Man" (this one of course being the one so many Rolling Stones fans are often reluctant to admit was a Lennon / McCartney song). Also nice to see space given to George Harrison classics like “Something” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. It always seems a pity to me that the songwriting credits for the songs were not more often Lennon/McCartney/Harrison (that now famous Quarrymen record is a McCartney/Harrison song) as he was such an enormous talent both as a musician and a songwriter and somehow history has overlooked that a little.
Just a simple great night’s entertainment with a band playing classic songs with four people on stage that also have that ability to just work with an audience and entertain them. The Cavern Beatles do what all good tribute bands do and that is bring enough of themselves on stage to be their own selves too.
The Cavern Beatles were kind enough to answer a short list of Q & As that we sent them before the show. You can read them at this link