Gig Journal: Wedding in Central London – 26th April 2014

May 4, 2014

We played at a wedding reception last weekend, it went really well. The bride and groom were really nice, the crowd very responsive and the venue somewhat unusual (in a really good way).

The venue was Brunswick House in Vauxhall, just south of the river in Central London. It was a combination of restaurant and antique dealers – there were iconic London street signs, hotel marquees and lamp posts all over the place. If you’re ever looking for somewhere a bit different for lunch (or to buy an authentic piece of London street furniture), this is it.

About 3 weeks before the wedding, the bride and groom asked if we could play their first dance. We’re always honoured and excited to oblige as it’s something they and their guests will never forget. However, that also means we need to get it right!

We’re asked to play a range of songs for wedding first dances – some less obvious than others. We don’t play anything the Beatles never recorded (although our definition of ‘recorded’ is very broad sometimes!). In the past, we’ve done songs that have included ‘Something’ (acoustic), ‘Stand by Me’, ‘That’s Alright, Mama’, ‘In My Life’ and many, many others!

The issue this time was that they asked for ‘I’m Only Sleeping’ – a fantastic song John wrote for the Revolver album. While it’s a great song, it wasn’t in our repertoire.

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I thought it might be interesting to share the process we go through in learning a new Beatles song, so here are the steps we took as a band:

1) Agree a plan

As a band, we are a democracy, so the first thing was to reach an agreement on what we wanted to do. No dramas on this one – we agreed to learn it. We all love the song, its been on our ‘to do’ list for years and it meant we could make the wedding extra special for our client, so everyone’s a winner! We then agreed we needed the song to be ‘gig ready’ by the time we had a rehearsal the Wednesday before the gig. That gave us 2 weeks.

2) Listen to the song

Most of the band are avid, obsessed Beatles fans and have been for more years than we would care to admit. Nevertheless, remembering how you think a song goes can be quite different to how it actually goes. We go back to square one and listen afresh, setting aside our preconceptions as best we can.

What we listen to is an important point here. The Beatles catalogue has been released so many times over the years in different formats, different mixes and even different versions. Some are obvious alternate takes (Anthology, here’s looking at you!), some are less obvious remixes (Yellow Submarine Songtrack is a good example), then we have the 2009 box sets, with stereo and mono mixes. The Love album and Beatles Rock Band also uncovered interesting things that had previously been too buried in the mix to spot.

Then there are all the live recordings, including the Live at the BBC albums to consider. After all, we are a live band, so what are we trying to recreate? The album recordings or their live performances?

With so many sources to listen to, we generally listen to them all and then make a judgement call on which aspects would translate best live. Often, this raises some interesting discussions during rehearsals! How we handle the final section of Hey Jude is a good example of this.

In this instance, the song is relatively uncomplicated, but we still had to learn and correct a few things. Ringo corrected some of our assumptions around timing between choruses and bridges, George identified a new pedal he would need to recreate the backwards guitar solo. John, George and Paul had to work through harmonies and some quiet background studio banter in the song. Who knew that John says “yawn, Paul!” And then Paul yawns?! I didn’t!

3) Learn and memorise the song

This part is just about each member of the band going away and practicing their part repeatedly. It is also about deconstructing the structure of the song to understand it, which then makes it easier to remember. This takes time because being able to sing along to the record is quite different to playing and singing it live. As fans, we generally know the structure (and the lyrics) for most of the songs, which gives us a head start.

4) Rehearse as a band

We have an advantage in that we have our own rehearsal space that we can use at any time. Although each of the band are really busy with their day to day lives, we try to find the time to rehearse. To get the most from this, all of the band come to rehearsal fully prepared. This usually means that 2 or 3 run-throughs are all it takes to agree the so g is ‘giggable’.

We then refine harmonies, tweak little details, and we’re done.

5) Perform the song

The moment of truth! I’m pleased to say that the first dance went without a hitch! Phew!
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Gig Journal – 21st April 2014: Chatham Historic Dockyard

April 26, 2014

We get to travel around and do some interesting things in this band. For example, we had a fantastic time in Chatham, Kent last Easter weekend.

Chatham is home to the Historic Dockyard – a year-round tourist attraction that contains an array of attractions, boats and ships that include old warships and submarines (not yellow, I’m afraid!)

Like… The Beatles were booked as part of the entertainment for the weekend – part of a vintage car and steam bank holiday event – the Medway Festival of Steam & Transport. We shared the bill with a range of musical acts. The weather had been terrible the day before our appearance, but Here Comes the Sun was certainly a good choice for our set list on the day!

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We played a whistle stop tour of Beatles hits across our hour and a half set to a strong and enthusiastic audience – some of whom we posed with for photos after. It felt like a proper outdoor concert and the outdoor PA system was fantastic, which really helped.

And our ‘John’ and ‘Ringo’ bought a Penny Farthing between them. We’re not sure why – seemed essential at the time!

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Hopefully, we’ll be back there again sometime!

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Gig Journal – The Tropic @ Ruislip – Sunday 30th March 2014

March 30, 2014

We don’t get to play many gigs on a Sunday, but today’s an exception. Tonight, we return for the 4th (or is it the 5th?!) time to The Tropic @ Ruislip – a music venue in Middlesex, just outside of London. It’s also Mother’s Day today, so if you’re a mum, Like… The Beatles hope you’re having a great day!

Not only is The Tropic a really good music venue, but the crowd are always brilliant and really get into the moment.

Playing public concerts like these is really important to us as a band. We love doing what we do and whether we’re playing a corporate event, a wedding or a birthday party, we always give it 100%, but there’s something special about performing in a public venue – it keeps us on our toes!

The Tropic is a really good example of this. It is a really mixed crowd of all ages. Everyone’s there to be entertained, and (hopefully) just about everyone will be a fan of The Beatles

… although, there is a funny story about the time that we played in a bar in Southampton, fully dressed up in our Sgt. Pepper costumes, just about to launch into When I’m 64, only to be asked by a member of the crowd if we knew any Dire Straits! I digress…

Most of the crowd will be there to have a singalong, some will be there for a dance. Just about everyone will be listening (if they haven’t had too much of the sauce, of course!). Most will be watching, too – making sure that ‘John’ is standing in the right way as he sings, that ‘Paul’ wobbles his head in that way the real one did, that ‘George’ sings at the right mic and that ‘Ringo’ nods his head in time to the music.

Some will really be watching and really listening. We like this – it gives us a chance to demonstrate that we too are serious Beatles fans and how dedicated we are!

The musos in the crowd will be listening to make sure each Beatle is singing the right harmonies at the right time (Ob La Di, Ob La Da and Octopus’s Garden are great for this), that we’re each playing the right instruments and the right guitar parts (John playing some lead parts on Get Back, for example).

This might all sound a bit over the top, but after the gig when we’re having a chat with the folk who have come to see us, we’re always amazed by how much people spot what we might consider ‘the little things’.

That makes it all worthwhile!

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Gig Journal – Holiday Park in Clacton, Essex – 22nd March 2014

March 22, 2014

We’re on our way to a holiday park on the coast of Northern Essex today. Although the weather has improved in recent weeks, it’s still pretty cold and the UK holiday season really hasn’t started yet, so we’re not expecting a large crowd tonight as we make our way up the A12.

Being in a band like ours, we inevitably spend a lot of time travelling together in our trusty van. Not the prettiest thing in the world, but with its 7 seats and plenty of storage space, it means we can all travel together with room to spare.

A feature of life on the road is the sheer number of motorway service stations you end up visiting – some on a very frequent basis! Whether someone wants 12 bottles of Windscreen Washer Fluid, has a post-gig MacAttack, or we just need a caffine-laden coffee to keep ourselves awake on those long journeys home, there’s usually a motorway services nearby all to willing to oblige.

Some of these places are plain horrible, others are more like mini shopping malls. Most are like eerie ghost towns in the middle of the night no matter what.

The Top 5 Motorway Services as approved by Like… The Beatles (in association with Peartree Productions) are:

1) Clackett Lane (M25)
2) Cambridge (A14)
3) Reading (M4)
4) Toddington (M1)
5) Sandbach (M6)

Sorry, but special mention has to go to Watford Gap for their ridiculously high priced packets of Skips. Highway robbery. Yeah, that’s right Watford Gap – we name and shame! ;0)

Nearly there…

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Gig Journal: Friday 14th March 2014 – University of Cambridge

March 20, 2014

Today’s blog comes to you live (almost) from Cambridge University!

Yes, Like The Beatles have gone all brainy and that (for today at least) to perform at Girton College (one of 29 undergraduate colleges at Cambridge, fact fans!) for their Spring Ball.

The place is gradually filling with food concession stands, beer tents and pretty lights. There’s even a full size Helter Skelter being constructed… that might dictate at least one song in our set!

Its always fun sharing the bill with other bands – the scene in the hotel lobby in Spinal Tap is painfully true. Everyone gets on, but the unspoken competition is fierce!

It’s 5 o’clock in the afternoon right now. We’re waiting to sound check and then we wait until 2am for our curtain call.

Still, lots of time for us to sit around, so we need to keep active. Plus, performing in one of the most prestigious academic institutions in the world, it’s important to make the most of it.

We left our game of Jenga in the van, which I think we’re going to regret later. We love a game of Jenga… Instead, we’ve had a wrestling match, played a game of Off Ground Touch and been busking Beatles tunes in a courtyard that looks a bit like something out of Harry Potter.

Only 4 more bands to sound check before it’s our turn… where’s that sorting hat? Hope I’m chosen for Hufflepuff!

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Gig Journal: 1st February 2014 – Walthamstow

February 2, 2014

As I approached the crossroads between East Avenue and Orford Road, there it was – our destination. Our goal and venue for tonight’s gig – Orford House Bowling Green. The bright floodlights making the white building shine in the surrounding darkness of the early evening.

There, by the front doors, was our van. The rest of the band had just finished unloading all of our gear and it was time to set up for our evening show. Together again. United.

Where had I been? Funny story.

Tonight’s gig had been booked through an agent. When that happens, there are some things you have to take on faith, including the name and address of the venue you’re playing at. This isn’t usually a problem – how difficult can getting an address right be?

Let’s rewind to 3pm. The van fully loaded and all the band present, it was time to hit the road. We pulled out our copy of the contract with the venue address and duly typed in the postcode on the Sat Nav. Only 60 miles to the venue! That’s nice and local for us.

Just over an hour later, the slightly sarcastic voice on the Sat Nav was insisting that we had reached our destination. According to the contract, we were looking for Waltham Borough Bowls Club. All we could see was a residential street. Odd, but sometimes a postcode can cover quite a large area, so we weren’t worried yet.

We checked on Google Maps. There was a Waltham Borough Bowls Club nearby! In Lloyd Park, which had been named as part of the address on the agent’s contract! After driving around the perimeter of the park several times, we concluded that the only stumbling block was that the venue was in the middle of the park – somewhere we wouldn’t be able to get our van anywhere near.

So I volunteered to go into the park and find the venue so we could come up with a plan for unloading the van. It was getting late and we were running out of time, so we agreed that one of us would phone the client to explain we were a bit lost (and ask for directions!) at the same time.

Leaving the others with the van, off I went.

Lloyd Park is nice, spacious and has lots of modern facilities – including no less than two bowls pavilions – one of which is Waltham Borough Bowls Club! ‘Hooray’, I thought. It turned out that both bowls pavilions were tightly locked shut for the winter. It was very clear that neither were the right venue. We had been sent to the wrong place.

I made my way out of the park and found a newsagents. I asked a family standing outside whether they knew of any other bowls clubs in Waltham Forest. Luckily, they knew of another – Orford House Bowling Green. But it was 2 miles and 20 minutes away on foot – on the other side of town. The family gave me directions, wished me luck and off I trotted. A quick call to the rest of the band and the van was heading in the same direction.

Fast forward 20 minutes and there I was, reunited with the rest of the band at the right address. The balloons tied to the front door confirmed it! Luckily, we weren’t even late – fortunately, the ‘get in’ time on the contract was wrong, too.

In the end we had a great gig with a great crowd and we were fed fish n’ chips! You can’t really ask for more than that. Except maybe the right address… And venue.

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Like The Beatles on recreating the iconic album covers

January 12, 2014

Like The Beatles are dedicated to recreating The Beatles music in front of live audiences throughout the country but they also enjoy recreating other aspects of the Beatles fabulous career. An example is the band’s attempts to recreate The Beatles iconic album covers from Please Please Me all the way through to The Beatles Anthologies.

Here are some of our creations and how we achieved them.

Please Please Me

The original Please Please Me Album Cover was photographed at EMI’s London headquarters in Manchester Square by legendary theater photographer Angus McBean in Feburary 1963. The decision to photograph having only been arrived at after the idea to photograph them outside London Zoo’s insect house fell through. Sadly the iconic staircase was removed in 1995 so Like The Beatles were forever searching for an opportunity to look down another staircase..

One day their opportunity came when performing a show at Gillingham Football Club.

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A Hard Days Night

The Hard Days Night Motion Picture was accompanied by a soundtrack which had a cover recreating the effect of a film reel as seen in an iconic moment in the film. Recreating this album cover was a simple case of adorning black polo necks and armed with the original album; posing.. cropping, colouring and carefully lining them all up. It is faithful to the original even down to the lack of emotional diversity in Ringo’s face.

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Revolver

Klaus Voormann, The Beatles friend from their days in Hamburg created the famous Revolver album cover which was a combination of line drawing and collage. Klaus used a number of photos taken by Robert Whitaker who took a hundreds of famous photos of the band including the infamous “Butcher Cover”. On this album cover there are all sorts of weird and wonderful things happening and as you can imagine it took a while to try and recreate it from scratch.. but we tried nonetheless. Using a combination of drawings and recreated photographs; below is our attempt at recreating Revolver… it includes details like individual lines for each hair just like the original, a little face in Paul’s ear.. John in Paddington Bear trousers, George in a helmet and Ringo sitting on George’s head with fake legs.

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Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band

Probably the most iconic album cover of all time. Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts club band had a cover which captured the psychedelic nature of the summer of love every bit as well as the music within it. The Grammy Award winning Album cover was designed by Peter Blake and Jan Howorth and photographed by Michael Cooper. The Beatles used cardboard cutouts and library sourced images blown up to life sized proportions which were lined up and photographed in a studio in London. The Beatles wore custom made military uniforms made from satin and dyed in day-glo colours which were covered in paraphernalia and medals… not an easy thing to recreate.

Like The Beatles had their one-of-a-kind costumes custom made by a friend who also used satin and colour matched them to those originally worn by the band. Each medal and badge was sort after and painstakingly matched where possible right down to Paul’s Ontario Provincial Police patch which we found on Ebay, Ringo’s British Coat of Arms and Paul’s Grenadier Guards Badge to name but a few.

We didn’t have our own studio in which to print lots of life size figures (we also don’t like to waste paper) so we used our computer skills to create our own updated version with new faces for you to identify. Nothing from the original album cover was used in this recreation.

How many faces can you identify?

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While we were at it we also posed for the Sgt pepper Gate-fold…

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We have recreated many more album covers which can all be seen at www.likethebeatles.co.uk so please feel free to check them out and see what else the band are up to.


Gig Journal: 20/12/13 Loose Cannon London

December 21, 2013

We had a terrific corporate Christmas gig in central London this afternoon – for a division of Capita. A really good afternoon party in a really interesting Cavern-like underground venue.

Performing anywhere in the square mile can be a challenge – we have a big van with a high roof, so we can’t just park it in any old NCP multi-storey. Today, our good friends of the London Fire Brigade came to our rescue, letting us park in their yard as a special Christmas favour. To repay their good deed, the band have made a donation to The Fire Fighters Charity http://www.firefighterscharity.org.uk – thanks again, guys!

Sent from my iPhone

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Thanks to Jonathan for your Lovely tweet too…

@jonathanflowers: Absolutely awesome Beatles tribute band at our Christmas party today. Throat sore from “Hey Jude” @likethebeatles #recommended Nah nah nah..


Pic of the day

November 23, 2013

Visit http://www.likethebeatles.co.uk to see us in action

Beatles tribute

Like the Beatles performing at the towngate last year


Posted in: band, beatles, like, tribute

Updates coming

August 22, 2013

Hi everyone sorry we have not been on here for what seems like ever but there has been a lot going on.. busy busy busy and all that…

I am going to get this blog back up and running but for now please see all the new stuff we have added to:

http://www.likethebeatles.co.uk

And while we come up with some amazing tales of what its like to be in a working class but very busy and hard working Beatles Tribute Band.. here is a picture of Nick with a Camel:

 

Like The Beatles at the zoo