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2018 Liverpool International BeatleWeek was a fantastic seven days

By Katie Eaton, Beatles News Liverpool Reporter

Liverpool -- Highlights of the 2018 Liverpool International BeatleWeek included something for everyone, from Beatles' VIP Guest Speakers Patti Boyd, the 75th Birthday celebration of George Harrison, a London Westend Musical Choir, the Analogues band making history by playing the complete White Band, to a "Scousechella" and much more.

At any time during the 2018 Liverpool International Beatleweek that started Wednesday, August 22 and ended Tuesday, August 28, a visitor would have a difficult time trying to figure out what band to listen to as there would be a minimum of two different bands playing at the same time in different venues or different stages within a single venue. The Cavern Club kicked off Beatleweek featuring some of its best performers, with Clark Gilmour, Paul Jones, Jon Keats each doing 2 hour sets at the Cavern Club Front.

The music didn't stop the night of August 22 until 1:30am in the Cavern Live Lounge, after Nowhere Band had finished their set. The next day, August 23, more Beatles tribute bands had arrived in town and then the tough decision begins with which band to listen to, when there are two or more other bands playing at the same time starting at 11am and finally ending at 2am in the Cavern Pub.

Friday, August 24, the organizers offered five different bands playing at three different venues on a total of five different stages nearly every hour starting at 11am at the Cavern Club and then at noon at the Alma De Cuba, where the 75th birthday celebration of George Harrison featured many Beatles and George Harrison tribute bands and performers playing the music of George Harrison.

Later that Friday night, "The Analogues", a Dutch Beatles themed tribute band, made history recently at the sold-out evening concert held at Liverpool Philharmonic, by performing all 30 songs on the White Album, from beginning to end, including the complete 8 min 22 sec of Revolution 9, along with a short video made by Dutch graphic film artist Jaap Drupsteen, which was shown to compliment Revolution 9. The video illustrated what the Revolution 9 song sounded like, a musical collage of odd sounds, seemingly randomly spoken words that get repeated, all combined for an unusual audio experience that has no catchy tune or backbeat of any kind. This fantastic short video transformed the entire Revolution 9 experience into a complete experience, wedding the audio with visual, a real first. No other band has ever attempted such a feat because of the technical challenges "using analogue and period-correct instrumentation" involved in recreating The White Album, the Beatles' first double album. What makes "The Analogues" so unusual is that they use the same instruments that The Beatles used in 1967.

The Analogues (Photo by Chrissie Stone)

Walking back to the Adelphi Hotel, the fun was just starting for an all nighter where nearly 40 members of the London based "West End Musical Choir" directed by the gifted west end musical director Ben Van Tienen rehearsed three Beatles songs they planned to perform Saturday night at the Philharmonic Hall.

Saturday afternoon was a trip down memory lane at the Olympia Theatre, formerly the Locarno Ballroom, just an eight minute drive from the Liverpool Adelphi Hotel, where both the Rolling Stones last played on December 12, 1963 and the Beatles last played on February 14, 1963. There were two different stages, an acoustic stage in the back of the theatre for a smaller audience, and the main stage featuring Beatles tribute bands starting with "BackBeat," "Liverpool Beat" and "The Fab Fourever" from Vancouver, Canada, along with non-Beatles band "Rocks Off", a Rolling Stones styled tribute band, and ending with a blast from the past, the "Hideaways," a Merseybeat/R&B band that played more times than at the Cavern Club the Beatles and featured special guests Billy Kinsley and Beryl Marsden.

Rocks Off (Photo by Katie Eaton)
The Hideaways (Photo by Katie Eaton)

After the Locarno Ballroom trip down memory lane, the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall featured a very special evening concert "Lennon and McCartney Songbook," where the first half featured music from John Lennon, both solo and songs where he wrote most of the songs credited to Lennon-McCartney. This Lennon set was sung by the incredible Jimmy Coburn, with a few songs by the equally talented Jon Keats. The second half featured music from Paul McCartney's songbook sung by Jimmy's brother Tony Coburn, and then included a few songs sung by Bob Bartey, who made a special guest appearance and is remembered for his first performance at the Beatleweek convention in 1988.

The West End Musical Choir opened up the Saturday night sold-out "Lennon and McCartney Songbook" by performing "And I Love Her" and "Nowhere Man". Director Ben Van Tienen showed a stroke of genius in creating an innovative choral arrangements for the song "And I Love Her" by adding a bit of Paul McCartney's verse from his solo song "Silly Love Songs", "Some people like to fill the world with silly love songs" which seems to fit perfectly into "And I Love Her."

The West End Musical Choir (Photo by Katie Eaton)

Moving along, another fantastic all night party at the Adelphi started at 11:30 pm after the concert ended at the Philharmonic, giving attendees just enough time to walk back to the Adelphi hotel and take a short break.

Sunday, August 26 was the biggest day in the Beatleweek Convention, because the Adelphi Hotel lounge turned into a giant Beatles merchandise and memorabilia marketplace starting at 10am. Mark Lewisohn moderated each of the interviews for the guest speakers, starting with Tony Bramwell at 11:30am, followed by Freda Kelly at 1pm, Patti Boyd at 2:45pm and finally Joey Molland at 4:15pm.

Each of these speaker sessions had full crowds, but the ballroom really heated up with so many people crowded standing in the back and on the sides of the Adelphi ballroom for Patti Boyd's session.

Freda Kelly also was a big draw and she talked about how she saw the Beatles at each of their lunchtime sessions, how she got her first job with Brian Epstein, and how her father put his foot down when she had given out her home address to receive fan mail. She also explained why she only lasted a week during the filming of "Magical Mystery Tour" and how she made John Lennon go down on his knees and begged her to come back to work for them.

Mark Lewisohn and Freda Kelly (Photo by Chrissie Stone)

Patti's talk was equally precious, as she really gave you an idea of what it was like living with George Harrison and what the Beatles were really like when they were together.

According to Patti Boyd, the Beatles "were like a force, a hurricane" when "the four of them were together" and they would be talking so fast to each, making jokes and taking jabs at each other. She said they seemed to have their own language of insider jokes that she didn't understand so she would just "slink into a corner and just watch them."

She shared that George was always playing the guitar and playing something, that he spoke through his guitar in his guitar playing and when he wrote the song "While My Guitar Gently Weeps", Patti said "the idea that a guitar could weep is just breathtaking" because he really could make his guitar sound as if it were weeping.

Mark Lewisohn asked a very interesting question about how often she visited the recording studio. Patti surprisingly answered she only went twice, once for the recording of the Beatles "Birthday" song during the White Album recording session and the second time for the recording of "Yellow Submarine". This is significant in that George kept to the unwritten "no women" rule in the studio while John Lennon decided to break this rule once he started to bring Yoko Ono into the studio during the White Album recording sessions.

Also taking place Sunday were presentations in the Derby Suite starting at 10:30am with Peter Phillips, grandson of Percy Phillips who recorded the Quarryman's first acetate disks in addition to making the first disks for many other Merseybeat artists, followed by author David Bedford presentation on his new book "Finding the Fourth Beatle," a well researched story about 23 drummers that played with the Beatles from 1956-1970, Gary Astridge, Ringo Starr's Beatles drum gear curator and historian, author Ken Womack's presentation on his new book and research on George Martin, Julia Baird's presentation on what's happening at Strawberry Field, followed by a presentation about the Mad Day Out Project by Tom Murray, Andy Edwards and Simon Weitzman, and lastly at 6pm a chance for Beatles fans to ask author Mark Lewisohn questions.

In addition to the Derby Suite guest presentations and the Adelphi ballroom VIP guest presentations that both took place almost at the same time making it hard to be in several places at once, the International Beatleweek Film Festival started at 11am presented by author Keith Badman. Keith has been hosting the annual film festival for the annual Beatleweek since it started in the mid-1980's! He was instrumental in lining up and showing a great assortment of Beatles related films. The films screened in order were some new films not seen anywhere "Here There & Everywhere", "Some Other Guys", along with the recently released film "Looking for Lennon" and the 2013 film "Good Ol' Freda". Keith also assisted with the extremely popular "Ringo Bingo" game at 6pm by providing sound and video clips to accompany the Ringo Bingo fun.

Moving along to Monday, August 27, the last major concert festival event offered was something called "Scousechella," Liverpool's answer to the annual California Coachella Music Festival, and was held in the nearby Grand Central Concert Hall which is inside the recently renovated lovely unusual art nouveau styled building known as "Grand Central" that features an iconic image of John Lennon in one of the bars on the ground floor.

"Scousechella" featured the tribute acts including a Bob Dylan tribute singer Richard Batty followed by a Pink Floyd styled tribute band "Eclipse" and then followed by a Neil Young Tribute band "Rust for Glory's", followed by a Who tribute band "Who's Next," followed by a Rolling Stones styled tribute band "Rocks Off" and lastly the grand finale finished off the Scousechella Festival, "Pure McCartney," fronted by the talented Tony Coburn and backed by members from both the McDonald's Farm and The Cavern Club Beatles.

What an incredible BeatleWeek convention that included nearly 7 days of programs despite last year's proclamation that the convention was being shortened to 5 days.

Tip for next year: Book early to get a reservation at your favorite hotel for 2019 as the ticket packages with hotel accommodations sell out well before July. To get the most of your next Liverpool International Beatleweek, be sure to purchase the full program as it is well worth the 10. The program provides a description of each band that plays, and where/when they are playing along with an overview of the festivities, parties and special events that are not otherwise accessible via the International BeatleWeek website.

Thank you Cavern City Tours for putting on this incredible convention and all the work put it into and thanks to all the many tribute bands and performing artists, more than 60 different groups, all of whom made it possible to have multiple performances happening at the same time nearly every hour of every day for nearly 6 days.

More information:

• Liverpool International BeatleWeek
• The Analogues
• Jaap Drupsteen (The Analogues)
• Ben Van Tienen and his West End Musical Choir
• Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me by Patti Boyd
• Mark Lewisohn
• Freda Kelly
• Author Keith Badman

Related articles:

• Tony Bramwell reveals why John Lennon called him Measles (8/30/18)

Published August 31, 2018

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