It is nearly 50 years since the Beatles released their debut album Please Please Me.
This weekend, the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra, led by conductor Mark Fitz-Gerald is performing The Beatles’ greatest hits. It was a sold out show and right from the opening double-shot of Strawberry Fields Forever and Penny Lane, it was an almost religious experience. For both these songs, as well as for Yesterday and Hey Jude, I had a lump in my throat or was nearly close to tears. The absence of lyrics actually put the focus on the amazing quality of their musicianship. All credit also to the arrangements, which were very cinematic. There were a couple of songs, where the horn section actually had me thinking I was listening to an early Bond theme. There were others arranged to sound like a ’70s TV show or something composed by Burt Bacharach.
Before every song, Mark Fitz-Gerald would say a short note about the song or the circumstances under which the song was written.
The giant screen in the background displayed an outstanding collection of photographs and album covers. A couple of the pictures, showing the four running down the street capture the energy and spirit of four young men on the cusp of stardom.
At the end of the performance, there were a several encores with the highlight being Twist and Shout, which had some members of the audience twisting in the aisles (we were told before the song that we had ‘special permission’ from the MPO management to break with the normal house rules of decorum!). Mark Fitz-Gerald was fully into the swing of things himself with a great physical performance on stage. The audience were also encouraged to clap and sing the chorus for songs like Yellow Submarine and Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.
I must drop into MPO and pick up the CD of the performance which is on sale, I believe. It was quite a unique experience, very different from listening to the actual songs, so well worth having.