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Wednesday, 19 October 2011
Backbeat, Duke of York Theatre
Backbeat is the story of the Beatles, unarguably the most popular band of all time. The show is a cross between historical documentation and retrospective musical compilation, which predominates I still can’t work out. Following Ian Softley’s 1994 film of the same name, the production is rocking the Duke of York’s Theatre in the West End.
The show centres around the ‘Germany years’ in the early 60’s when the Beatles were starting out, an unnoticed Skiffle band. Aside from the brilliant Beatles songs, this show manages to fit in some rock’n’roll classics by other artists; Chuck Berry’s ‘Johnny B Goode’and Isley Brother’s ‘Twist and Shout’ were two of my favourites.
The cast is stellar, a tight knit ensemble of muso-actors, who sing and play and act with equal vigour, I was very impressed. The stand out performance for me comes from Andrew Knott as the sarcastic but loyal John Lennon. Knott is completely committed to the role and is a joy to watch perform on stage. Nick Blood also gives a shudderingly good performance as the dark and distracted Stuart Sutcliffe, he comes across as a suitably tormented artist.
Having watched Ruta Gedmintas in the TV series Lip Service (I had a bit of a girl crush on her), I was delighted to see her strutting her stuff on stage as the femme fatale of the show, Astrid Kirchherr. She certainly has attitude and an instant magnetism, perhaps thanks to her steely good looks and piercing green eyes. Gedmintas is a good actress but her faltering accent led my concentration to stray a frustrating number of times.
The show resembles the format of ‘Million Dollar Quartet’ and ‘Jersey Boys’; giving an insight into a world famous band. For me it was a revelatory history lesson to learn more about a group of musicians who have always intrigued me. Aside from that, it was great fun, and with musicians this good they give the real Beatles a run for their money!
BACKBEAT continues until Saturday 29th March, book here.