9 March 2010

Tomorrow Never Knows

There are no such things as time machines.  There, I admitted it.  There are no such things as time machines and so there is no way to travel back in time and see the Beatles play live. 

But last night… well… I did just that.

Last night I did exactly that, I shot back through time to the 1960's and witnessed something that I've always wished that I could.  Last night I saw John, Paul, George and Ringo, take to the stage and play to a packed out house. 

I, like so many people who were either very young or not even born during the sixties, owe my appreciation of the Beatles to my parents.  The early and repeated exposure to their music, like so many things between parents and their children, could have fostered a resentment, or even an irrational dislike of the very thing my parents were trying to share with me… but thankfully it didn't.

Thankfully perhaps, among the many things that a caring mother or father tries to teach their offspring, an interest in the works of the Beatles is in some way very special, so special that it can break down the seemingly impenetrable barriers between generations. 

Now, as a parent myself, I believe there may be some truth to that.  Both of my sons, one in his late teens and the other just under but about to enter those genetically programmed years of rebellion, both have openly expressed their liking of the Beatles after my efforts of introduction.  To have these two agree on anything is an unusual event but to have them both agree on a matter of musical taste shared with myself smacks of being a full blown miracle. And I was able to witness that miracle playing live, together once more, on stage last night. 

OK as I said there are no time machines, so I'll come clean.  I didn't really travel back in time and I didn't really see The Beatles play live… but I did however see the very next best thing.  The Bootleg Beatles

Obviously as someone who has danced around the edges of the musicians lifestyle for many years I was aware of them.  They are the longest running and most successful tribute band in the world, over 30 years of gigging and still going strong after all. I guess, in the past, I probably thought that they were (like most tribute bands) just another bunch of reasonably talented musicians, incapable of sparking their own light of inspiration and so basking under the spotlight glare from someone else's… But no I was wrong. 

The Bootleg Beatles are more than that, they are far more than just a cover band gigging for cash and kicks.  After witnessing their performance and understanding the unbelievable effort and attention to detail that it must have taken to accomplish, I realized that they had taken it upon themselves to do something more than just work up a show for the sake of their bank balances. They have taken it upon themselves to become the keepers of a special kind of history, the purveyors of a unique kind of magic and an experience that I am so very, very glad that I had the opportunity to witness.

You see normal, every day history is dry.  It's fossils, it's old musty books, it's museums run by guys in cardigans who care about something you don’t have the time or inclination to care about.  But that is not what I witnessed last night.  What I witnessed was collection of live slices of time,  more sharply defined than any recording could ever hope to compete with. An experience drenched in more emotion and care than any movie could ever convey.  What I saw was real, what I felt was real, what the audience and the band shared was real.  The people on stage were more than just a bunch of guys banging out some golden oldies.

You see they were conveying something other than just notes and words.  They were saying if you were around when the Beatles were playing, remember how it felt and  smile.  They were saying if you were too young to be there for real,  then here is what it felt like. They were saying the same thing that my parents had said to me and they were saying the same thing that I have said my sons and they were saying the same thing that I hope (one day) my sons too will share with their own children. What they were saying was this:

Listen to the Beatles…


Shhhh… just listen and you'll see.