On the 47th anniversary of the Beatles’ last public performance on the Apple headquarters rooftop Jan. 30, 1969, the Liverpool Legends partnered with the Conway Symphony Orchestra to bring Beatlemania to Reynolds Performance Hall.
Louise Harrison, sister of the late George Harrison of the Beatles, attended the “All You Need is Love…and Music” event.
Louise handpicked the four members of the Beatles tribute band based on physical resemblance to the original Beatles and on musical expertise. Louise said she met Marty Scott, who performs as George, a few weeks after her brother died.
“I’ve always had this kind of Twilight Zone feeling that wherever George’s spirit went after he left his body, that he looked around to try to find a replacement for himself, and he found this guy,” Louise said. “When we met, we immediately hit it off. We became good friends, and we adopted each other right away.”
Not only did Scott look and sound like George, but Louise said he also had a similar personality. Louise soon found the remaining three members, with Kevin Mantegna as John Lennon, Bob Beahon as Paul McCartney and Greg George as Ringo Starr.
The four members have spent years perfecting their art.
As a right-handed guitarist, Beahon said he had to learn how to play left handed, as McCartney played, before he could start perfecting McCartney’s mannerisms.
“I wanted to play musically like him before I tried to emulate the moves,” Beahon said. “If you listen to the baselines, it’s like a song within a song. As far as the mannerisms and as far as the voice, you don’t change your voice. It’s just pronunciation and inflection.”
To mimic McCartney’s mannerisms, Beahon said he watched videos, such as the Beatles’ performance on The Ed Sullivan Show and “A Hard Day’s Night.”
Conway Symphony Orchestra General Manager Vicki Crockett said Greenbrier Public Schools Band Director Judy Harkrider played a big role in getting the tribute band to come Conway.
Harkrider met the Liverpool Legends at a concert and after learning that they visited public schools, she arranged for the band to come to Greenbrier in 2012 and 2014.
As a Conway Symphony Orchestra board member, Harkrider discussed bringing the group, which had never worked with classical music, to partner with the orchestra with other board members. Harkrider said they’ve been working on this for about a year and a half.
Crockett said the orchestra practiced with the Liverpool Legends for about two hours the afternoon before the performance after receiving the music earlier that week.
The audience was filled with people reliving their first experience with the Beatles as one of the 72 million people watching the Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964, for the Beatles’ first performance in the U.S.
“It was the biggest story of the year,” Jill Schneider said. “And I thought, ‘What is all the hysteria about?’ Naturally, when they were on the Ed Sullivan Show, I watched. I was curious just like everybody else. I wasn’t into rock ‘and’ roll, but I realized that for who they were, they were somebody special.”
The Liverpool Legends started the night with the band’s 1963 song “Please Please Me,” the first single the Beatles released in the United States and the title track of their first LP.
In an effort to recreate the mania that accompanied the Beatles when they performed, Scott asked audience members to come to the front and jump, wiggle and go crazy for the remaining three songs before intermission: “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby,” “Day Tripper” and “Twist and Shout.”
When the Conway Symphony Orchestra joined the Liverpool Legends onstage for the second half, the four Beatles impersonators donned the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band silk costumes, singing songs from the albums “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “Abbey Road” and “Revolver.”
They started the second half with the Beatles’ 1967 song, “With a Little Help From My Friends,” with the orchestra members swaying with the words.
“Got to Get You Into My Life” (1966) featured the CSO’s horns section, followed by the slowerpaced “Something” (1969), during which couples scattered throughout the auditorium stood and slow danced at Scott’s request.
After performing “Hello, Goodbye” (1967) featuring the strings section, UCA senior music major Will Yandell stepped down from the orchestra to perform the trumpet solo for “Penny Lane” (1967), although using a trumpet bigger than typically used for the song.
Yandell said as the CSO principal trumpet player, the solo was his, and he said that he got the music that afternoon at the dress rehearsal.
As a Greenbrier High School alumnus, Yandell played with the Liverpool Legends when they visited his senior year. Yandell said there was a huge difference between the two performances.
“In high school, there were no string players, so the orchestration was a lot heavier,” he said. “The fact that everyone in the orchestra is a professional musician contributed a lot to the quality of the performance—the Liverpool Legends made pretty consistent remarks about how impressed they were with us.”
Beahon also performed the Beatles’ 1965 single “Yesterday” alone onstage with the orchestra, and CSO Conductor Israel Getzov stepped out to conduct the Liverpool Legends, too, as they played “Eleanor Rigby” (1966).
Scott then took the stage to sing one of George’s biggest songs for the first time, “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” (1968), dedicating the song to Louise.
The concert ended with the Beatles’ 1968 song “Hey Jude,” with orchestra members waving instruments and bows and audience members waving flashlights via phones throughout the air.
Louise came on stage after the first act to talk about her brother, the Beatles and starting the Liverpool Legends.
“They took their work very, very seriously, but they never took themselves seriously. And they never ever got to the point where they thought they were wonderful. It was only them.”
While Louise said she does not have a favorite Beatles song, she said their most significant song is “Imagine.”
“Imagine if that could really happen,” she said. “Wouldn’t that be terrific?”
Of her brother’s songs, she said her favorite is “Cheer Down.”
The Liverpool Legends and Louise were stationed in the foyer after the show for autographs and pictures. The Liverpool Legends have headlined a production in Branson, Missouri, since 2006, winning awards including Best New Show, Best Band and Best Show.
The group will perform at Carnegie Hall on March 5.
This article originally appeared in the Feb. 3, 2016 print edition of The Echo.
image by Makenzie Evans