The Courier-Mail

Noel Mengel View Original Article

THIS writer is usually wary of Beatles tributes. I am such a fan of the band that the thought of hearing the music in some way mishandled or diminished makes me feel a little uneasy at the plethora of Beatles celebration shows that pass through.

It was hard to resist this one though, with four young songwriters out front of a band of some of Australia’s most respected musicians, and playing the music from two of the finest albums anyone ever made.

It was only as the show progressed that it occurred to me that, as much as I loved these albums and knew them inside-out, I had never seen any of these classic songs performed live.

To hear these songs reproduced so faithfully — the band includes veteran players like guitarist Rex Goh and drummer Hamish Stuart — through a high-quality sound system in a comfortable venue like the Concert Hall was a delight.

Through the course of those two albums, released only eight months apart in 1965 and 1966, The Beatles grew before our eyes, from the writers of supremely catchy rock tunes and love ballads to a band completely rewriting the book of what was possible in the studio.

For Rubber Soul — songs like Drive My Car, Michelle, If I Needed Someone and Norwegian Wood — the rock band format is enough. For Revolver they are augmented by brass section and string ensemble, allowing the singers to soar through songs like Eleanor Rigby, Yellow Submarine and Got to Get You Into My Life.

For a fan like this one who was so taken with the explosion of musical colours of Revolver, it was a delicious thrill to hear the Indian flavours of Love You To (with Goh reproducing the sitar on his Coral electric sitar) and the psychedelic symphony of Tomorrow Never Knows delivered at high volume and rich sonic fidelity on the concert stage.

The really tough job of the night is for the singers, all of whom would have been unknowns to most of the audience, but they all did well, particularly Williams with his ballad turns on Here, There and Everywhere, In My Life and Michelle.

A concert like this reinforced so many things we know about The Beatles, and some which we might have forgotten: the nuance and detail they gave each of these songs in the studio, the stellar quality of the harmony work which is almost a forgotten art in rock bands today, the sheer breadth and variety in the writing. And not just one but three of the finest singers in rock history, and Ringo as a wonderful foil to them.

Stepping into the shoes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney in particular as singers is no easy task, but these four were all sympathetic to the material, with Lane equally adept at Lennon or McCartney, from You Won’t See Me to I’m Only Sleeping. But most impressive was the songs where all four combined, like And Your Bird Can Sing, with Goh and co-guitarist Paul Berton nailing those tricky harmony riffs.

As encore, two singles from the same era, We Can Work It Out and Day Tripper, by which time even doubters like me were won over.

Coming in 2016, it was announced on the flyer handed out to patrons, is a Beatles show called All You Need is Love, complete with orchestra. Count me in!

The Age

Michael Dwyer View Original Article

These are boom times for classical music. The trouble with these ubiquitous rock repertoire recitals is the proximity of the composer’s voice. As a performer, you can’t better what’s literally on the record. Nor must you try. But you better get bloody close.

With a posy for mum up one sleeve and something illegal up the other, Marlon Williams, Husky Gawenda, Jordie Lane and Fergus Linacre straddled the Beatles’ heady mid-1960s pivot point with sublime grace.

The unfailing precision of warm harmonies and note-perfect obsessions of a superbly credentialled rock band – bassist Tony Mitchell was in Sherbet, for heaven’s sake – ticked all due respect boxes before Drive My Car turned left into Norwegian Wood.

The clincher was the unalloyed affection the singers brought to every phase of a trip that still defies all pop logic. How to fit Yellow Submarine between the blissful coo of Here There and Everywhere and the brown acid of She Said She Said? Just get everyone to sing along, silly.

From cornball cute (“anybody here tonight named Michelle?”) to the sound of generational revolution (Tomorrow Never Knows: wow), the clearly loved-up ensemble found the right gear for every hairpin bend on the pop-soul-folk-country-psychedelic highway.

Sure, Williams, Gawenda, Lane and Linacre all had turns to shine. But as with any classical recital, the composers remained the stars of even the most brilliantly handled manoeuvre (Eleanor Rigby: wow).

Like Dweezil Zappa said of performing his father’s oeuvre, a good guide knows better than to stand in front of the paintings.

Manly Daily

Steve Moffatt View Original Article

PRODUCERS Tim Woods and Phil Bathols have relit the dormant Beatlemania of the Baby Boomer generation already with their excellent musical re-enactments of the White Album and back-to-back Sgt Pepper and Abbey Road, and they have done it again with their latest show.

Although Rubber Soul and Revolver were released eight months apart they show how the Beatles were rapidly developing 50 years ago. One is the best of their early period, the other is a beacon for all that was to follow.

Wood and Bathols follow their successful formula of getting together some of Australia’s top session musicians to back talented young Indie rock singers in a live concert which follows the tracklist.


For this latest outing they’ve picked three top Melbourne vocalists — Husky Gawenda, Jordie Lane and Kingswood frontman Fergus Linacre — and lanky Kiwi folk-country balladeer Marlon Williams, and what a superb line-up they turn out to be.

Avoiding the trap of trying to sound like the originals, their voices nevertheless capture the mood and essence of the material while the listener’s musical memory does the rest.

Rubber Soul was released for Christmas 1965 and the 14 tracks deal mainly with love, albeit somewhat cynically at times (Norwegian Wood, I’m Looking Through You) or jealously (Run For Your Life). The exception is Nowhere Man, John Lennon at his acerbic best about a man “making all his nowhere plans for nobody”.

Rubber Soul was released for Christmas 1965 and the 14 tracks deal mainly with love, albeit somewhat cynically at times (Norwegian Wood, I’m Looking Through You) or jealously (Run For Your Life). The exception is Nowhere Man, John Lennon at his acerbic best about a man “making all his nowhere plans for nobody”.

By August the next year when Revolver came out the foursome had started experimentation — and not only with music — with George Martin bringing in a string quartet for Eleanor Rigby and a Muscle Shoals-style horn section for Paul McCartney classics such as Good Day Sunshine and Got To Get You Into My Life.

George Harrison was blossoming as a songwriter, sitarist and satirist (Tax Man), Ringo Starr’s drumming had never been better and he almost steals the show with Yellow Submarine.

Lennon in the meantime was finding inspiration in drugs (I’m Only Sleeping), his dealer (Doctor Robert) and the Tibetan Book of the Dead for his most trippy track of them all, Tomorrow Never Knows.


All of this was brought stunningly to life with the help of top-notch session guitarists Rex Goh and Paul Burton, who worked their way through a rack of guitars, including one which simulated the sitar when Goh channelled George on Love You To, before they raised the rafters with their double solo on And Your Bird Can Sing.

Burton also made a great fist at his attempt to reproduce Lennon’s extraordinary solo on Tomorrow Never Knows while music director Paul Gray worked overtime on keyboard and laptop to capture all the special effects.

Williams brought the house down with his sweet voice taking on McCartney’s ballads Eleanor Rigby and Michel and Lennon’s In My Life, while Gawenda had just the right blend of mysticism with emotion for Harrison’s Love You To and the heartbreaker For No One.

Lane was exceptional on Good Day Sunshine and Linacre got the house rocking with Got To Get You Into My Life.

Not surprisingly Yellow Submarine had the audience singing along. After the bonus tracks of We Can Work It Out and Day Tripper, Tony Mitchell, of Sherbet fame, strapped on his Hofner “Beatle” bass guitar and audience bopped and sang along to I Saw Her Standing There.

What’s left? Maybe Help and Hard Day’s Night? Whatever it is, Beatlemania is still alive in Sydney.


Jonty Czuchwicki View Original Article

The Beatles’ Rubber Soul Revolver was a premium quality show of epic proportions.

The production was rich yet slick and the large ensemble band was full of candour. The addition of four singers (Marlon Williams, Jordie Lane, Fergus Linacre and Husky Gawenda) who are not only among Australia’s biggest vocal talents at the current moment, but also extremely vibrant personalities, made for a heartwarming evening. The production, which saw a massive ensemble of keys, percussion, guitars, bass, drums, violin, viola, cello, trumpet, flugel, tenor sax and trombone performing two of The Beatles’ most popular albums of all time back to back was certainly super entertaining. Seeing Williams at the helm of Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown) or Lane belting out Doctor Robert (with a cheeky nod from Linacre to the fact that he may or may not have taken LSD before the show) was a sight to behold. 

Some people may not have been happy with the way in which these songs were performed in a new light, but the object of the show was not to be The Beatles, nor to be “better” than them. The show was simply a celebration of the music loved by so many, and in that sense it was a whole lot of fun. When the entire company joined forces to sing Yellow Submarine or Got To Get You Into My Life, the result was superb. With their voices being their main role on stage, the young leading men seemed to be at odds with having so much time and space. The combination of awkward dance moves and almost bumping into each other was frivolously charming, especially since each of the frontmen come from different performing backgrounds, yet were nailing each line note for note. As psychedelic visuals poured over the large backdrop it was easy to say that the sonic engineering was of an extremely high quality in this show. All the elements blended impeccably well to create an upbeat and wondrous atmosphere. The magic really amped up to 11 during the encore, where the band performed some more obscure singles from the Rubber Soul and Revolver period. They ended the show to a standing ovation — it’s recommended, whether you’re a Beatles fan or not, that you give this show a shot!


Bryget Chrisfield View Original Article

As expected, it’s an older crowd that mills about Hamer Hall’s multi-storey foyers pre-show and there are many authentic, vintage Beatles tees on bods. Handing out one-sheeter programmes with track listings and cast list is a smashing idea. But there’s an unfortunate typo whereby Michelle erroneously becomes the French boy’s name, Michel.

Opening track Drive My Car features all four singers — Marlon Williams, Jordie Lane, Husky Gawenda and Fergus Linacre — and the harmonies are flawless. All musicians assembled onstage also prove their worth quick-sticks. Introducing each vocalist after they’ve led a song is unusual and probably a tad confusing at first for those who are unfamiliar with tonight’s roll call. Suitably psychedelic imagery graces the large screen behind the band. Six rotating circular screens on tall stands, which are distributed evenly upstage in front of this screen, feature complementary images. Asking whether there’s a Michelle (or Michel, perhaps?) in the audience proves a fairly safe bet and Williams comes so close to an absolutely magical rendition of this song (there’s just the one harsh note). (But then he completely nails Eleanor Rigby in the Revolver half.) All mums (except Mrs Williams) are in the house according to separate claims from Lane, Gawenda and Linacre. In My Life is touchingly dedicated to the recently deceased Cilla Black. Rubber Soul closer Run For Your Life is a standout as fronted by Linacre.

For those who didn’t realise the Prahran nightclub was named after a Beatles album, it’s now time for the Revolver half. We’re encouraged to sing along during Yellow Submarine and Williams hoons up and down one of the stalls aisles to rev us up. Lane’s vocals eerily channel Sir Paul McCartney during Good Day Sunshine, particularly his upper register. Williams uses a favourite new term, “guitarmony”, when introducing And Your Bird Can Sing and the playing here is most awesome. There’s an animated banana among the swirling concoction of meds in Doctor Robert‘s visuals, but we’re pretty sure the song’s subject wasn’t prescribing natural serotonin. The brass stabs during Got To Get You Into My Life make it difficult to remain seated and whatever instrument supplies those crazy seagull sounds during this album’s closer Tomorrow Never Knows deserves a mention.

Our encore comprises the double A-side we’re informed was released on the same day as Rubber Soul: We Can Work It Out/Day Tripper. The crowd is (finally) on their feet for Day Tripper then we score the added bonus of I Saw Her Standing There, during which Lane comes in a bar early with, “Well we danced…”. Paul Gray is an outstanding MD and it’s impossible not to compare this evening’s vocal talents. Tonight’s winner? Williams. Not only because of that voice, but also the enthusiastic dance moves. Plus one dad’s verdict? “Marvellous.”


Liz Giuffre View Original Article

Led by musical director Paul Gray, tonight’s show was part of a series Beatles concerts “performed live, back to back and track for track”.

While it’s hard to go wrong with a guaranteed setlist of great tunes and the concert hall of the Opera House, the challenge is to make the set something more than the offering of a fancy cover band.

This group of featured vocalists were relatively unknown compared to the previous series, but this allowed for some significant discoveries rather than tribute-meets-tribute stuff. Kiwi Marlon Williams stole the show with his slightly awkward swagger but gorgeous crooning (Michelle never sounded so good), drawing the room with a slightly nervous stance but a stunning vocal tone. Thanks Beatles — seems you’re still introducing new sounds!

Next Husky Gawenda gently drew an otherwise overly shiny show in by telling stories of his mum using Girl as a lullaby as a little boy — with his version of For No One just the right amount of vulnerable without being sappy. Fergus Linacre (of Kingswood) played something of a new wave rocker, with Got To Get You Into My Life really suiting, and it was Jordie Lane, perhaps unsurprisingly, who took on an unofficial leader role, introducing members and making sweet deadpan jokes.

Concert and Great Masters appreciation mode was triggered, but the real fun was to be had with the goofiness of all-ins like Yellow Submarine and Drive My Car, as well as an encore double A-side plus I Saw Her Standing There. While there wasn’t much opportunity for direct collaboration beyond the odd ‘lead plus back-ups’, all in, the opportunity to show off new voices with grand old coats was worth it.