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4* Review: Let it Be – Opera House Manchester

Let It Be is the musical celebration of everyone’s favorite Scouse foursome and while it lacks the narrative to truly be called a musical, still manages to hits the high notes.

The evening begins with a playlist of early ‘60s pop songs playing over two screens of contemporary newsreel featuring icons of the era from JFK and Martin Luther King to George Best and Twiggy.

A brief pre-show announcement asks the audience to remember that mobile phones weren’t invented in the 1960s so best to switch them off, but screaming, shouting, arm-waving, dancing and generally ‘acting like teenagers’ was encouraged!

The curtain is raised and the audience is presented with one of the most recognisable sights in music.

Four mop-haired lads pitch up in matching black suits with brilliant white shirts while layered screens on stage on the stage project the image of the Cavern Club’s famous low arch ceilings.

The band burst straight in to early Beatles classics including ‘Please Please Me’ and ‘I Saw Her Standing There’.

Each bore a striking resemblance to their Liverpudlian counterparts.

Squint from the gallery and you could believe that truly was John Lennon, while the on-stage mannerisms of Paul McCartney were on-point from the man behind the bass, Ian Garcia.

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The onstage banter between the group and also between ‘John Lennon’ and the front row would become a developing theme throughout the night.

The first act was a rip-roaring ride through the early years of The Fab Four, from the Royal Variety Performance to their groundbreaking Shea Stadium appearance.

As the first act wore on it did begin to feel more like a tribute act and less like a show, that was until the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band section, for which the band had changed into the iconic brightly coloured military garbs.

The layered screens were back on the stage, but this time they were adorned with hazy brightly coloured flowers and peace motifs.

Surreal cartoons were played on the screens interspliced with images of Liverpool landmarks, all of a sudden one was reminded that The Beatles were much more than a clean cut, mop topped, pop band.

Act II began with a psychedelic set and video loops of hippies at Woodstock and anti-Vietnam war marches.

Gone are the sharp suits and Sgt. Pepper uniforms, now it was all granddad vests, flares, shoulder length hair and moustaches.

Audience favorites such as ‘Penny Lane’ and ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’ eventually make way for an ‘unplugged’ set, this was a real opportunity to see musicianship of the cast members; George Harrison’s ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ and the band’s rendition of ‘In My Life’ were particular highlights.

The night drew to a close on the back of the ‘Abbey Road era’ by which time the entire audience were on their feet, clapping, singing and waving along to the songs, especially during the encore of anthemic numbers ‘Hey Jude’ and title song ‘Let It Be.’

In the end the show had enough bells and whistles to become more than just a tribute show and instead a chronological musical interpretation of the history of one of the most important pop groups of all time.

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