Last night I headed out to see a performance of The Beatles "White Album" at the Canberra Theatre. The show has been on all around Australia and got pretty good reviews.
Hand on heart I can tell you that I am not a Beatles tragic. I don't know all the words to every song on that double LP or even the song order. I am, however, a fan of live music and the idea of an album tribute show sits well with me.
Musically, the members of the band were top notch. Led by guitar legend Rex Goh (Air Supply, Eurogliders and about a million session credits), they were faithful to the Beatles originals. Their sound team weren't though at times burying many of the minor instruments in favour of the guitars. And why it took until "Bungalow Bill" to get a decent snare drum sound we'll never know.
The vocals were handled by four Australian rock singers. Tim Rogers (You Am I), Chris Cheney (The Living End), Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon) and Josh Pyke. I've seen You Am I play live a few times and they've always been sloppy and annoying. Their albums though are excellent. As a result I was really, really blown away with how good Tim Rogers was. As the self confessed least able singer, he made up for any perceived shortcomings with his energy and attitude. In short, he rocked. Chris Cheney played his beautiful Gretsch guitars as well as putting in a memorable vocal performance. He was certainly annoyed that his guitar was almost silent in "Back in the USSR". So was I. Josh Pyke was great. I find a lot of his solo stuff a bit quiet for my liking but his performances were excellent - especially "Blackbird" which he did solo. Phil Jamieson...hmmm...look, he can sing and the songs he did suited him but I'm not sure what was with all the poncing about on stage. It was weird and distracting.
My favourite Beatles song, "Glass Onion", was done really well. Other highlights were a really earthy version of "Why Don't We Do It In The Road" and a top rendition of "Rocky Raccoon". I think the show stealer might just've been Cheney doing a rip-roaring version of "Happy Birthday".
All in all it was a fun night. The first half of the show was a little reserved but Tim Rogers amped things up and the others warmed up. The mix got too loud in the second half for my liking. There's a fine line between a great loud band and volume that begins to hurt and it was crossed on a few occasions. Backup singers should stay in the background; that was another small distraction.
There's footage of bits and pieces but here's an official one: http://youtu.be/MMUMfhnaObg
But now I'm off to listen to the original.