BEATLEMANIA came to Wycombe last night as one of the county’s top Beatles tribute acts relived the sounds of the sixties for one night only as part of their UK tour.
James, Simon, Roger and Colin, better known as the Upbeat Beatles, bounced onto the Wycombe Swan stage with their mop top hairstyles for a first half charting Beatlemania and the Fab Four’s journey towards world domination.
A barnstorming rendition of ‘Saw Her Standing There’ set the tone for the evening, with the high-tempo numbers getting the audience out of their seats and dancing.
Unfortunately, the theatre was far from as packed as the American baseball stadiums from the Beatles’ early tours, footage of which was shown on a screen during the first costume change.
But that did not prevent the foursome from pouring heart and soul into the performance, with note-perfect renditions of their heroes’ extensive back catalogue as close to the real deal as they could possibly be.
The tour is a 50th anniversary celebration of the release of John, Paul, George and Ringo’s first studio Album Please Please Me.
If anyone in the audience had forgotten the impact the Beatles had on musical culture, hit after hit soon put them straight, with Love Me Do, Ticket to Ride, Yesterday, I Want to Hold Your Hand and Hard Days Night all featuring in the first half hour.
As far as impersonations go, the band members had obviously done their homework, with John Lennon’s sarcastic, droll Liverpudlian tone captured perfectly and Paul McCartney’s often bizarre facial expressions equally well observed.
But it was the startling likeness of the guitarist to George Harrison that struck the sweetest chord, with a double take necessary in the second half when the long-haired, moustached figure took to the stage.
After the interval, the black and white suits and instruments of the Fab Four’s early career were replaced with kaleidoscopic colour for their foray into psychedelia.
The songs were interspersed with interesting footage from throughout the sixties, re-establishing the worldwide phenomenon of the four boys from Livepool done good.
And wry in-jokes charting rivalries and bust-ups within the band gave a real sense of personality to the musicians on the stage and added to the authenticity.
As you might expect, audience participation was the name of the game, with the rising ‘Aaah’ refrain of Twist and Shout becoming the crowd’s responsibility.
And after standout closing tracks such as Harrison’s wistful Something and the grungy I am the Walrus, the Upbeat Beatles predictably brought the show to a close with an arm-waving rendition of Hey Jude as their encore.
A technical hitch in sound department during the second half was an unwelcome interruption, but aptly, it came during With a Little Help From my Friends, with the audience filling in for the short-circuited microphones.
A Beatles purist might argue there were not enough obscure album tracks on show, but to most, it was the closest thing possible to seeing the true musical greats in the flesh, and a reminder of just how special , important and unique the Beatles were.