Let It Be
- Gareth K Vile
- 14 May 2019
Between tribute act and jukebox musical
Although Let It Be has now added a second act that imagines a reunion of the Fab Four in 1980, it retains its basic intention of recreating several seminal moments in the musical history of a band which has remained a standard for success for almost half a century. From their early appearances at the Royal Variety to their final show atop their studio, the Beatles represent the zeitgeist of the 1960s, from optimistic beginnings, through psychedelic indulgence to a terse finale, as competing interests and egotism gradually dissolved the camaraderie between the four boys from Liverpool who changed the world.
Let It Be offers little insight into the development of the band – each stage of their musical journey is presented fully-formed – and the tensions between McCartney and Lennon are rarely expressed. The band captures the sound of the band expertly, and something of their onstage personae, but there is little attempt to shift the action into a cohesive narrative: a few glances between the musicians and a little banter between songs aside, Let It Be is all about the music.
In this context, the use of video from the wider world of the band's existence becomes a tokenistic attempt to inject context into what becomes a picture-book version of history. When John Lennon (Richard Jordan) quips that the reunion is going better than expected, it is a rare moment that reveals Lennon's acerbic wit: George Harrison (John Brosnan) plays the journey guitarist, stoic and virtuosic, but their onstage interaction is limited and, ultimately, says nothing of the Fab Four's character and relationships.
Yet this event is all about the music and the audience. Harrison's solo songs are the most well-received – and the recreation of Sergeant Pepper tracks hint at the strangeness of a band transitioning from pop to more serious music, without losing its sense of humour. The audience shout for the hits, sing along happily and lend an aura of Beatlemania – albeit within a polite environment – to the event.
His Majesty's Theatre, Aberdeen, Mon 13–Sat 18 May, then touring UK.