Following our hectic day of Beatles sightseeing in Liverpool, Adele and I caught up on some much-needed sleep and woke up bright and early on Saturday morning for our first proper day of Beatleweek. Having picked up our wristbands and itinerary at the very fancy Adelphi hotel (where we unfortunately weren’t staying!) we wandered over to a venue called Alma de Cuba at lunchtime for our first event, Songs The Beatles Gave Away.
Alma de Cuba is a really nice little bar and restaurant which used to be a church. There were several acts performing there, most of them playing those Lennon-McCartney compositions that were given to other artists. We saw The Yesterdays, The Shakers (the Cavern’s resident Merseybeat band) and a fantastic duo from Brazil, Gleison Tulio and Keilla Jovi, who play electro-acoustic renditions of Beatles songs.
It was in Alma de Cuba that one of the funniest moments of the weekend occurred. I was watching one of the bands when Adele tapped me on the shoulder. I turned to look at her, and she had an expression of pure shock on her face. “Sarah… I think I’ve just seen Ringo Starr… standing over there.” She pointed, and sure enough, there was Ringo chatting and posing for pictures with a group of people. Or so it seemed. I felt the colour drain from my face, and for a full two minutes we just stood there staring and debating why Ringo would actually be in Liverpool, this weekend. This carried on, until it became clear to us that this was a guy who looked just like Ringo (and was dressed just like him) but was not actually Ringo. It turned out he was Ringer Starr, a tribute act. But still… in that moment, we experienced what it must feel like to have your heart almost stop at the sight of a real live Beatle just casually hanging around a few feet away.
After that entertaining incident, we headed back to the Cavern to watch some more bands. The heat inside the place is unbelievable. It’s long since been refurbished, of course, but I’d heard so many stories about the infamous ‘Cavern smell’ and condensation on the walls back in the days when The Beatles themselves used to play there. It was a surreal feeling being inside this historic venue, particularly watching Hamburg Beat, who played all the early rock and roll stuff that The Beatles did back in the day. Another band we enjoyed was WingsBanned, a Paul McCartney tribute act.
Later in the evening, it was time for probably the biggest event of Beatleweek and one that everybody had been talking about: the Fab Faux at the Royal Court Theatre. An American band, it was their first appearance at Beatleweek in ten years, and they are so in demand everywhere that we’d been told we probably wouldn’t get another opportunity to see them any time soon. It was only when they came on that we realised what all the fuss was about. They were incredible. With string and brass sections on stage, they manage to play the later material in the way you would imagine it might sound if The Beatles themselves had been given the chance to play it live. It was just magical; hands down, the best tribute band experience I’ve ever had.
Sunday was convention day, so we spent the whole day at the Adelphi hotel packing in as much as we could. We browsed all the memorabilia on sale and had a brief chat with Len Garry, one of the original Quarrymen. This was followed by a screening of Good Ol’ Freda, the excellent documentary film about The Beatles’ fan club secretary, Freda Kelly. We had both seen the film already but were more than happy to watch it again. Afterwards, Freda herself came in for a Q&A session. We also attended other guest talks throughout the day, which were all fascinating. They included Chris Hall (who had recorded with Paul McCartney) Tony Bramwell (who worked for the band and Brian Epstein), Geoff Baker (Paul’s former PR) and Julia Baird (John Lennon’s sister). It was great to hear so many stories first-hand from people who knew and were involved with The Beatles in different ways.
The rest of the evening was spent watching many bands on the Adelphi stage. We saw WingsBanned again, Them Beatles, the Cavern Club Beatles and various others. Our mate Ringer Starr also performed, and Adele took the opportunity to snap a photo of him on stage and send it to various people, pretending it was the real Ringo (he’d fooled us for those two minutes on Saturday afternoon, and you honestly couldn’t tell the difference from where we were now standing). It got a few likes on Twitter, so I wonder how many of those people fell for it!
In between bands, we also got chatting to a very nice man who was in a Kinks tribute band and had performed as part of a British Invasion themed evening earlier in the week, which we unfortunately hadn’t been around to see. I can’t remember if we even got his name, but he was a nice guy. We also had a brief interaction with John’s sister, Julia, when she dropped her glasses at the bar and Adele picked them up for her.
Monday was our last day, and we were so upset about it. We never wanted to leave! We spent the day in the Cavern watching as many bands as we could fit in. One of the highlights was a duo called Loving John, who played John’s songs with just voice and keyboard. It was very impressive. We also snapped some final photos in this legendary music venue.
Unfortunately, it was soon time to head to the airport. We played air hockey to pass the time before our flight and when we got back to Dublin, I had to rush for my bus home. It was about two in the morning when I got back and I was completely exhausted, but also suffering from severe withdrawal symptoms. Strangely enough, after a full weekend of nothing but Beatles, all I wanted to do was immerse myself in their music even more. Imagine that!
We had a fantastic time in Liverpool and have been looking forward to going back ever since.