When you hear the words ‘tribute band’ you’re usually expecting a load of bad covers that just don’t do the originals any justice. However The Bootleg Beatles were the exact opposite when they took to the O2 Guildhall’s stage in Southampton.

Not only did they sound the part, they looked the part. Dressed in typical Beatles fashion they walked out onto a darkened stage, which burst to life as they kicked things off with ‘A Hard Days Night.’

Surprisingly, they sound exactly like the real deal complete with Scouse accents between songs. Adam Hastings sounds so much like John Lennon it’s scary and Hugo Degenhardt puts Ringo Starr’s drumming to shame – although that isn’t exactly hard.

Andrew Barreau and Steve White portray George Harrison and Paul McCartney perfectly and all four sink into their roles whilst the set progresses through the eras of The Beatles.

At the midway point they get bodies twisting and bopping with a flawless rendition of ‘Twist and Shout’ before leaving the stage. One costume change later the band return in full Sgt Peppers attire, complete with a small orchestra comprised of horn section, flutes and a string duet.

Excited anticipation is in the air and everyone knows what’s coming next: the one and only ‘Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band’ that flows beautifully into ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ sung by Degenhardt (Ringo) from the kit.

What follows is arguably the best section of the performance: a whole host of psychedelic rock from Sgt Peppers… and The Magical Mystery Tour, including ‘I Am The Walrus’ and ‘Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds’ – which they dedicate to a 9-year-old boy for his birthday before Hastings (Lennon) realises: “What a perfect song for a 9-year-old. A song about drugs.”

The set ends with another costume change into Abbey Road and a climatic ‘Hey Jude.’ The roaring crowd sings along and begs for more which The Bootleg Beatles and their orchestra provide in the form of a mash-up of Abbey Road songs, ending the night with ‘Carry That Weight.’

Andrew Yates

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