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Dutch Masters The Analogues Bring The Beatles’ ‘White Album’ To Life

The mission statement of the highly skilled musicians is to perform the albums that The Beatles never did, exactly as they were made and with the same vintage instruments, but live on stage.

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Analogues live screenshot

Dutch band the Analogues achieved a historic first last weekend — bringing The Beatles’ complete, so-called White Album of 1968 to the London stage in its full, idiosyncratic 93-minute glory.

Analogues White Album poster

It’s an unwritten rule of music that he or she who tampers with the catalogue of The Beatles risks universal wrath. The triumph of the Analogues is that far from tampering with it, they treat it with the pristine respect that is making their shows a real talking point, at home and abroad.

Over recent years, the group have come together (pun intended) with the express purpose of mounting note-perfect, in-concert recreations of the albums that The Beatles themselves never toured. As devout admirers, the Analogues were acutely aware that after the hallowed quartet’s famed final regular live show at Candlestick Park in San Francisco in 1966, they continued to create some of the greatest music ever committed to album, but never performed it for concert audiences.

The mission statement of the highly skilled and experienced Dutch musicians was to recreate those albums, exactly as they were made, “using the same vintage instruments, amplifiers, sounds, live strings and horns,” as they say. “’Just the music’ as recorded by The Beates in the ’60s. Only live.”

Their first such project was 1967’s Magical Mystery Tour, in its extended US version, before another successful itinerary brought Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to the stage. When the Analogues made that album a concert reality in 2017, this writer witnessed a homecoming show at Amsterdam’s Ziggo Dome that would warm the heart of the most obsessive Beatles perfectionist.

Lately, they’ve been at it again, but this time with perhaps an even greater sonic challenge: to make flesh of the most chameleonic of all Beatles releases, 1968’s self-titled collection known to all as the White Album. It was this undertaking that brought the Dutch group to the UK and, after other shows, to the London Palladium last Saturday (4) for their first-ever date in the English capital.

A conventional review is hardly necessary, since it would declare that the recreation opened, unsurprisingly, with ‘Back In The USSR’ and closed (before some stirring encores) with ‘Goodnight.’ But what happened in between combined painstaking sonic accuracy with genuine warmth and engagement.

There was so much to enjoy here, whether you knew all of the often-bizarre nooks and crannies of the White Album or not: the flautist who appeared for a matter of seconds for the ‘Fool On The Hill’ reference in ‘Glass Onion,’ for example, or the gentleman who contributed live birdsong to ‘Blackbird.’

Nimble helpers were always on hand to move large, period-accurate instruments on and off stage, for mood changes as mercurial as those on the album. The swift transitions from ‘Why Don’t We Do It On The Road’ to ‘I Will,’ or from ‘Helter Skelter’ to ‘Long, Long, Long’ take some dexterity.

They even rose to the challenge of how on earth to envisage the raving sound collage of ‘Revolution 9,’ which they did not as a band performance but with music director Bart Van Poppel’s astonishing, piece-by-piece studio recreation and a supremely appropriate surrealist film that accompanied it.

Far from trivialising the masterful originals, such attention to detail only served to reaffirm their genius. Especially when the Analogues took time to intersperse the material with stories of their own immersion into The Beatles’ world, and what moved them to take on a goal that they have achieved so brilliantly.

Their next adventure, on Dutch shows from June, is to perform Abbey Road, before they embark on the Let It Be: Abbey Road tour which already has a vast datebook in late 2019 and through 2020. Meanwhile, as the Palladium show came towards its close, a breathtaking ‘Goodnight,’ with full string and horn sections, was followed by selections from Magical Mystery Tour and Abbey Road.

It’s little wonder, then, that the quintet won the admiration of the eminent Beatles authority Mark Lewisohn and the group’s late, beloved engineer Geoff Emerick. He was moved to say of one of their shows: “I’ve witnessed something I never really thought I’d be able to witness again. Amazing.”

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