The Bootleg Beatles

Brighton Centre, Sunday, December 22


THE Bootleg Beatles are a lot like Father Christmas.

They appear every December with fabulous gifts for everyone, spreading peace and goodwill.

But you have to believe in them for the magic to work.

If you don’t, well, it is just four blokes in wigs pretending to be the Fab Four.

So no season’s greetings to the dad sitting next to me who felt the need to tell his kids they “weren’t the real Beatles”.

Luckily, the rest of us were true believers and, as every year, allowed ourselves to be transported back to the golden age of pop for a couple of hours.

The first half kicked off with It Won’t Be Long and All My Loving and romped from Merseybeat to conquering America, taking in She Loves You, Help, I Want To Hold Your Hand, Twist And Shout and Yesterday.

But there was also room for rarer numbers I Need You and I’m Down.

The second half took in the Magical Mystery Tour film, plus Penny Lane.

After the latter, a sarky John said: “Love that song, Paul, so catchy ... now let’s do the A-side” and the band launched into Stawberry Fields Forever, the other half of the greatest pop single ever made.

In previous years, the Bootlegs have revisited Sgt Pepper and The White Album to mark their 50th anniversaries.

This year it was Abbey Road and we got the best bits – Come Together, Something, Here Comes The Sun and a superb version of Oh

Darling with a raw-throated Paul vocal.

They also did most of the side two medley complete with Ringo drum solo on The End.

(Amusingly, a situation where a very good drummer had to pretend to be less talented for the sake of historical accuracy.)

As always it’s the little details that impress – from the way live footage of the Bootlegs playing the early stuff is shown in black and white on the big screen to the way Ringo’s drums are covered in blankets.

And it is hard to fault how the Bootlegs capture The Beatles, both physically and vocally.

This utterly fab show ended with encores of Hey Jude and Revolution.

It’s only about 360 sleeps till they are back in 2020.

Simon Copeland