Irish band get back to the Fab Four

The Classic Beatles perform their tribute to the world’s greatest group at the Everyman, writes Colette Sheridan

FANS of The Beatles can enjoy the sounds of the Fab Four in a unique tribute show at Cork’s Everyman Theatre. Returning to a venue they also played before Christmas, the Classic Beatles will perform Get Back: The Story of The Beatles, which traces the Liverpudlian band’s journey from the Cavern Club to global stardom.

The Dublin quartet, all ardent fans of the Beatles before they ever got together, say they are the only Beatles tribute band to have worked with famed Beatles producer, George Martin. Martin, now in his eighties, has said of the tribute band: “The vocal resemblance is uncanny.”

The tribute group features Scott Maher as John Lennon, Fran King as Paul McCartney, Rob McKinney as George Harrison and Binzer Brennan as Ringo Starr. King, 40, says it was only after working with Martin in 1999 that his band really decided to go for it. “We had worked with the greatest man in the business. He was an absolute gentleman. We did his last ever tour before he retired. We were brought on board in the National Concert Hall as kind of technical advisors because we had been playing note perfect Beatles’ music for so long. We were there to help other artistes sing Beatles’ melodies. We also sang a few songs, including ‘Yesterday’ with a full orchestra and George Martin conducting, which was a dream come true.”

The Classic Beatles were also invited to perform for Elizabeth II in 2004 for a party in her honour at London’s Ritz Hotel, and the band say she even shook her stuff during their set.

But is being in a tribute band satisfying? “It is, because we started out as fanatics and not just casual fans,” says King. “We probably got into music because of the Beatles and their great songs with those great hooks and melodies. Like most guitar players of my generation, the song books you would get in music shops were the four chord song books of Lennon and McCartney. They helped you start song-writing. We were fascinated by the structures of their songs.”

King admits that in his twenties, he would have craved the glory and fame of the Beatles. “You wouldn’t be a musician unless there was a bit of ego. But as I’ve got older, I feel more inspired by the Beatles rather than trying to emulate their fame. The fame was horrendous and was detrimental to their personal lives.”

In the late 1980s, King was busking on Grafton Street when he heard Maher playing a few obscure Beatles’ songs.

“We gravitated towards each other, got talking and the band kind of happened. There was no such thing as a tribute band then. It just came about through a common love of the songs.”

Get Back: The Story of the Beatles is a show that has been eight years in gestation. It came to fruition about three years ago and had its first airing in the Olympia.

A giant screen is part of the show. It shows filmed sequences of actors playing key figures in the career of the Beatles. “An actor playing Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein narrates the first half of the show and talks about how he first met the band in a dark cellar in Liverpool. The screaming fans greeting the Beatles in America are also re-enacted by actors. There is no actual stock footage of those scenes that the Beatles used. We had to be careful about that so we have filmed ourselves waving at the fans, getting into cars and out the other side, and being chased by the fans. The first act ends with the burning of Beatles’ records after John Lennon made his remark that the band were bigger than Jesus.”

As well as imagining the conversations that might have gone on during the recording of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the show also includes the band’s spiritual quest in India and there are subtle references to drug taking.

“We touch on every part of the Beatles’ story and are at pains to ensure that nothing is left unspoken.”

As well as sounding like the original band, the Classic Beatles also manage to look like them, wearing wigs and suits that were tailored in America, based on the original ones.

The show, says King, is suitable not just for diehard fans but also for people with a passing interest in the Beatles. “What’s great is that there are a couple of songs in the show that are on the Leaving Certificate music curriculum. If school kids come along, they will actually learn something.”

Clearly, there is something for all the family at this show.

*Get Back: The Story of the Beatles is at the Everyman from tonight until Saturday


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