The Beatles’ Festival ‘Let It Be Strings’ concert (27 Aug, Anglican Cathedral Well) sounded fantastic on paper: ‘chilled out lounge vibes’ from international artisits in the stunning setting of the Anglican cathedral. Well, the cathedral was certainly beautiful as ever, but some of the music certainly didn’t live up to the setting or the songs themselves.

Chatting to the barman at Parr Street studios before moseying up to the concert, he talked up Victoria Sharpe, the host and pianist (pic). And he wasn’t wrong. She performed rich, soulful covers of classic tunes like ‘Blackbird’ and kept the gig flowing along nicely, despite inviting a guest singer from the crowd to do a blues song part way through the first half.

But her interludes quickly became respite from the rest of the music. Alexandra Hill, a young violinist led instrumental covers that were proficient, but somewhat flat and lacking in emotional depth. The Swiss trio led by Marco Zappa forced classic Beatles songs into music that sounded like the theme from a children’s programme. Their accents were strong – no fault of theirs, of course – but very noticeable on their rendition of ‘A Long and Winding Road’, which overall contributed to their set sounding a bit like a comedy band on a cruise ship. The crowd did seem to be nodding their heads, tapping their feet and generally getting into it though. Were they hearing what I was hearing?

Italian group The Penny Ladies and guitarist Parlo Sorano injected a fun, Mediterranean vibe – their accents somehow easier on the ear, but still a bit jarring on tracks as recognisable as The Beatles’. The Swedish string quartet were easily the best of the night however, interpreting the band’s songs in a soft and confident way that made the best of the cathedral setting and acoustics.

As I left feeling relieved to be heading into town, I decided that instrumental Beatles can work if done properly, but sometimes European accented covers works for comedy effect only. Let’s face it, Ringo’s accent these days is hilarious enough.

2 Responses to “Review: Beatles Festival, Let It Be Strings”

  1. Richard van de Velde

    I am very sorry that I do not know who to talk to, but I have a problem with the way the writer is covering this concert. Ofcourse, everyone wants to see the original Beatles, alas, this is not possible due to known circumstances. I attended this concert as well and I had minor complaints because you go to this concert knowing that the music will be different. In my opinion the lashing at Marco Zappa is quite unnecessary because it is not about the accent, it is about the music. And we ( 3) were quite impressed by his way of altering it to fit into flute. The minor let-down was Ms. Victoria Sharpe, who thought this was all about her, and we should be lucky that she organized all these “top”- artists. During the walk from the Cathedral we had several thing we were not happy about: 1. The appearance of Connie Lush; we will not ever go to any display where she will or can appear. 2. Victoria Sharpe; no way we will ever want to see (hear) her again, she has a nice voice but the way she was displaying herself…. 3. OMG the Penny Ladies…. WHY,

  2. We have attended the Beatles weekend for the last 15 years and were bitterly dissapointed this year at the lack of stages devoted to their music. We saw the two Victoria’s at the Derby square stage Monday, but we decided this type of music was not for us However Des Betales and Made in Liverpoolwere brilliant,really had the crowd going, but organisers lost the momentum when the Victorias’ came on. We were thinking we probably would not go again- until we managed to get seats for the Philharmonic concert Monday evening featuring Fab Four, Marco Zappa and Hal Bruce – pure magic. All I can say is that they were brilliant and the Phil audience loved them, great musicians and brilliant arrangement from Marco and Renate. We shall be joining the overseas visitors next year to see more Beatles tributes even though we live in Liverpool.

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