The imaginatively titled, The Beatles, more commonly referred to as the White Album, will be 50 years old this November.
It is perhaps the least-Beatley sounding album of all; 30 songs across 2 LPs; diverse and covering many genres, including Folk (Mother Nature’s Son/Blackbird/I Will/Julia), Blues (Yer Blues/ Why Don’t We Do It in the Road), early Heavy Metal (Helter Skelter), Country (Don’t Pass Me By/Rocky Raccoon), Music Hall (Martha My Dear/Honey Pie), Experimental (Revolution 9), Cod Reggae (Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da) and even a lullaby (Good Night – written by Lennon for Starr).
The classic White Album was mainly written by the fabs on their own. Even Ringo was awarded one of his tunes on a Beatles record for the first time.
At this afternoon’s matinee performance, though, in Melbourne’s Hamer Hall, we were privileged to hear and see it performed by Chris Cheney (The Living End), Phil Jamieson (Grinspoon), Josh Pyke, and Tim Rogers (You Am I), and a backing cast of 16, including horns, a string quintet, Rex Goh (Air Supply/Phil and Tommy Emmanuel Band) as musical director, Tony Mitchell (Sherbet) on bass, and rather pleasingly, two drummers, which is always nice to see. Especially one right-handed (Hamish Stuart – no, not that one) and the other a lefty.
This is the third outing from the Australian foursome, having also performed it to sell-out crowds in 2009 and 2014.
It began, as it did in 1968, with the rocking Chuck Berry/Beach Boys-inspired, “Back in the U.S.S.R.”, featuring Chris Cheney on vocals and guitar.
Phil Jamieson followed with “Dear Prudence”, which he performed lovingly.
The White Album was played in the same order as on the original recording, and each singer seemingly increased in facial hair as they came on.
Tim Rogers swaggered on stage like the rock god he is, resplendent in a white suit, halfway through Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da.
After, he paraphrased John Lennon and exclaimed to the capacity crowd, “For the people down here, tear up your car park tickets. And for my friends up there wave your Myki cards around”, before launching into “Wild Honey Pie”.
Josh Pyke did justice to Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird”, by playing an exquisite, heartfelt version.
Tim wore a pig mask atop his head for George Harrison’s “Piggies”, a song which became notorious, due to the line, “What they need’s a damn good whacking”, that allegedly inspired crazed lunatic Charles Manson to get his followers to carry out some of the most violent and bloodiest murders in history.
The band played with respect and love, and the audience gave it back.
In all honesty, their version of Revolution 9 was quite remarkable. Probably the most listenable version a (sober) person could ever wish to hear!
Out of the 30 tracks on the White Album, 16 have never been performed live by The Beatles, as a band, or solo.
The White Album songs still stand up today, a half-century later.
So yeah, Drake has now “beaten the Beatles” on some ‘record’ or another.
Somehow though, I don’t think any musicians of 2068 will be lining up to perform Drake’s ‘Scorpion’.
And yes, guys, I think you passed the audition.
17th July Newcastle Civic Centre
19th July Brisbane Queensland Performing Arts Centre
20th July Brisbane Queensland Performing Arts Centre
21st July Canberra Theatre (Matinee)
21st July Canberra Theatre
24th July Adelaide Festival Centre
26th July Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre
28th July Sydney Opera House – Concert Hall (Matinee)
28th July Sydney Opera House – Concert Hall
29th July Sydney Opera House – Concert Hall (Matinee)
The Beatles White Album setlist
Back in the U.S.S.R. (sung by Chris Cheney)
Dear Prudence (sung by Phil Jamieson)
Glass Onion (sung by Chris Cheney)
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da (sung by all)
Wild Honey Pie (sung by Tim Rogers)
The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill (sung by Tim Rogers with Josh and Phil)
While My Guitar Gently Weeps (sung by Chris Cheney)
Happiness Is a Warm Gun (sung by Tim Rogers)
Martha My Dear (sung by Josh Pyke)
I’m So Tired (sung by Phil Jamieson)
Blackbird (sung by Josh Pyke)
Piggies (sung by Tim Rogers)
Rocky Raccoon (sung by Tim Rogers and Josh)
Don’t Pass Me By (sung by Phil Jamieson with a little help from Tim Rogers)
Why Don’t We Do It in the Road? (sung by Chris Cheney)
I Will (sung by Phil Jamieson)
Julia (sung by Josh Pyke)
Birthday (sung by Chris Cheney)
Yer Blues (sung by Phil Jamieson)
Mother Nature’s Son (sung by Josh Pyke)
Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey (sung by Tim Rogers)
Sexy Sadie (sung by Phil Jamieson)
Helter Skelter (sung by Chris Cheney)
Long, Long, Long (sung by Josh Pyke)
Revolution 1 (sung by Tim Rogers)
Honey Pie (sung by Phil Jamieson)
Savoy Truffle (sung by Chris Cheney)
Cry Baby Cry (sung by Josh Pyke – complete with the “Can You Take Me Back” refrain)
Revolution 9 (sung by all, including Tim at the end. ” Shit just got weird!”)
Good Night (sung by Tim Rogers)
Two of Us (sung by all on acoustic guitars and harmonies)
Across the Universe
The Ballad of John and Yoko
All Things Must Pass (which they dedicated to their friend – and former musical director – Paul Gray, who passed away from multiple myeloma on 24 April 2018).