Bootleg Beatles magical mystery tour stops by Ipswich Regent this Saturday
PUBLISHED: 09:00 30 March 2017
Beatlemania lives on and the tribute band that grew out of the show of the same name continues to delight audiences around the world with their accurate portrayal of The Fab Four - including fans in Ipswich soon.
Originally an American production, Beatlemania! came to London’s West End and toured the country to great acclaim.
When the tour ended, the four members of the band didn’t know what to do so they decided to carry on as The Bootleg Beatles and began touring in 1980.
The show grew in size and stature and tha band are just about the best around at what they do.
So good in fact that next summer they will be performing with the Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra at shows celebrating the 50th anniversary of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.
Before that, the band is undertaking a concert tour of Britain.
It goes without saying that the quartet of musicians has changed since 1980. The current line-up is Adam Hastings, who has been John since 2011; Steve White, who became Paul in 2012; and Stephen Hill and Gordon Elsmore who became George and Ringo in 2014 and 2016 respectively.
Steve, a native of Nottingham, told me how he got the job of portraying the greatest left-handed bassist in the world. It wasn’t a case of wanted – bass player – must be left-handed.
“I’d been in a lot of 60s bands, playing rhythm guitar and the band I was in sort-of morphed into a Beatles tribute band. I ended up playing John, but people said I should really have been Paul as I looked more like him.
“The thing is, I’m right-handed. So what I did was learn all the parts on bass right-handed, then I bought a cheap bass and strung it left-handed and it went from there.”
Then the call came from The Bootleg Beatles to stand in for their bassist who was sick.
“This went on for a while as the problem with the bassist kept re-occurring and when it was apparent he couldn’t carry on they asked me to do it full-time. So I didn’t audition, I sort of did an apprenticeship.”
The show itself is in four sections, done in chronological order.
“The first half of the show starts with us doing the Mop Tops era and then Sergeant Pepper as we introduce more musicians (a small orchestra in fact) so we can do songs like All You Need Is Love,” says Steve.
“After the interval it’s the Magical Mystery era and then Abbey Road and the end of The Beatles’ career.”
It’s a full-time job keeping on top of the shows.
“The research never ends really. There’s always new and better footage coming to light which we all watch to get all the subtle nuances of their mannerisms.
“We never feel we’ve got it completely nailed and that keeps it fresh for us. We never become complacent.”
The recent Ron Howard film Eight Days a Week brought us unseen footage of the band when they were touring.
“We saw it in Australia,” says Steve. “We thought it was amazing.”
It’s a hard life taking the show around the world, but it’s very rewarding.
“The hours are very gruelling and the schedules are quite punishing. We travel the world but never see it, but the connection you have with the audience more than makes up for it.
“We involve them as much as we can and when you see the room reacting with people singing and clapping, it’s very rewarding and fulfilling.”
Steve – a lifelong Beatles’ fan, sums up his role with the sentence.
“The music is just timeless and a great pleasure to play.”
• The Bootleg Beatles play the Ipswich Regent on Saturday, April 1.