Beatles tribute in Abu Dhabi

The Classic Beatles bring the music of the Fab Four to Saadiyat Beach Club

Beatles tribute in Abu Dhabi

Saadiyat Beach Golf Club will host a Beatles’ tribute band for one night only. Liz Totton finds out more.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Beatles, Saadiyat Beach Golf Club is bringing Beatlemania to our shores on October 9.

The musical tribute, Get Back! The Story of the Beatles, stars cover band The Classic Beatles, aka The Classics.

If you are too young to have seen the real Beatles live, The Classic Beatles are the next best thing.

After forming in 1991 as The Quarrymen, the band played in pubs around Dublin in Ireland. They have since risen to critical acclaim for replicating the music of The Beatles and their witty banter – they even motivated the Queen of England to bust a move at a party in her honour in 2004; impressive considering she boogied with the real Beatles as well.

The Classics are now in the middle of a global tour, and their Abu Dhabi performance will give you chance to relive the musical highlights of the fab four’s career from their early jam sessions in The Cavern Club in Liverpool in the UK to their final performance atop the Apple building in London. The cover band will play a few numbers that The Beatles never performed live, too.

TOAD caught up with Fran King, one of the band members, who’s better known as ‘Paul’.

Your band’s beginnings mirror The Beatles’. Did you actively mimic their business model or did it just happen that way?
Yes, it was almost like life imitating art. We started busking on Dublin’s Grafton Street and playing live in pubs, then progressed to a two-year residency in a place similar to The Cavern Club. We played in gritty, intimate clubs at the start.

Why do you play the part of Paul?
I have more of a physical resemblance to Paul than the other band members, and I have the highest vocal range in the band.

What are some of your career highlights?
In 2012 we visited Lithuania and played outdoors with a full symphony orchestra in an amphitheatre which was super exciting. We were also invited to play with Sir Paul McCartney for a John Lennon tribute special on MTV. Playing for the Queen of England at The Ritz in London was interesting because, up until a few moments before, we had no idea for whom we were playing. It turned out it was a private celebration in honour of her coronation. Once we found out the event was for the Queen, we cobbled together the same set list that The Beatles played for her at a Royal command performance in the Sixties. We were privy to all her favourite songs. She danced for the entire set. It was interesting seeing the royal family out of the public eye.

You are well into your 50th anniversary tour. How is it being received?
Great. We have had huge crowds, and the audience’s age ranges from seven to 70. Everyone sings along because The Beatles’ songs are so ingrained in all our psyches and culture. It’s been a heck of a ride and we are excited to bring it your way.

Why do you think The Beatles were so popular?
Their songs were based on melody, a beautiful harmonic structure and lyrics often grounded in real life events. The era was known for its, ‘I love you, you love me’ songs, but they progressed past I want to hold your hand to more introspective songs, which the Beat generation could relate to. There was a song for everyone, and that’s largely part of the appeal. The Beatles often called themselves, ‘The four-headed beast’. Paul charmed the ladies, John had witty banter, George was the intellectual and the moms and kids loved Ringo. Shows like Glee make their songs contemporary to keep the material fresh. That’s what I love about The Beatles.

Do you ever wish to be recognised as something more than a cover band?
Yes, of course. I signed to an American label in 2009 and am on my fourth solo album. The working title is The Greater Scheme of Things. Look out for it next summer. I am also in a new band, The Edisons, which will be coming to The UAE soon. I tour with them in between playing with The Classic Beatles.

Have you been to Abu Dhabi?
No, but we played in Dubai and Doha in June. I am excited by the region’s culture, architecture and landscape. I’ve heard so many good things about Abu Dhabi. I’m looking forward to doing as the locals do. I am fascinated by the underbelly of the city.
Oct 9. Doors open at 6.30pm, the show starts at 8pm. Tickets from Dhs80. Saadiyat Beach Golf Club, Saadiyat Island, (02 557 8000).

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