Review by Lia Cox
When I saw the marketing for the Classical Mystery Tour, I thought this would be perfect for my Beatles loving, drumming mad son.
Not to mention, I grew up on the sounds of the rocking 60s and swinging 70s, so this world premiere of the legendary Beatles album, Magical Mystery Tour was right up my alley.
Staged at The Moa, the famous outdoor venue at Adelaide Fringe’s Gluttony, this concert, at a pre-sunset time, was, quite literally, a magical ride through the soundtrack.
Magical Mystery Tour album was born after The Beatles completed Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in April 1967. McCartney wanted to create a film that captured a theme of a psychedelic bus ride with McCartney’s memories of Liverpudlians holidaying on coach tours. The film was to be unscripted; various ‘ordinary’ people were to travel on a coach and have unspecified ‘magical’ adventures.
Despite the widespread media condemnation of the film, the 1967 soundtrack release was a critical and commercial success.
With Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles continued their studio experimentation that had typified Sgt Pepper and the sound they had introduced with Revolver.
Using production techniques such as exaggerated vocalising and laughter, low-quality microphones to give a sound that Lennon’s voice ‘came from the moon’, synthesised noises, overdubbing live radio signals as well as a broadcast of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of King Lear!
Magical Mystery Tour album was a true investigation into being different and reflects The Beatles growing interest in stereo mixes and sonic qualities to make for a full body listening experience.
Classical Mystery Tour is an all-Adelaide celebration of the magic of The Beatles, featuring a massive 15-piece orchestra, under the superb guidance of musical maestro Julian Ferraretto, plus a rock band, ploughing together into a kaleidoscope of sound and colour to take us through a journey of the songs.
A beautiful medley at the start sets the tone of what to expect – a rich string, horn, brass and wind sound with a rocking drumbeat!
Busting out the namesake track, ‘Magical Mystery Tour’, lead vocalist and our tour guide, Anthony Leppa, along with Ian ‘Polly’ Politis on keys and Rohan Powell on guitar, gave fantastic insight and introductions into each song, drawing oohs and ahhs and laughter from the crowd throughout the show.
‘The Fool on the Hill’, a luscious piano ballad, saw the multi-tasking wind section really earn their keep.
The instrumental, ‘Flying’ is the first Beatles track to be credited to all four members and is similar to a 12 bar blues.
‘Blue Jay Away’, named after a street in the Hollywood Hills, was Harrison’s farewell to psychedelia after The Beatles embraced Transcendental Meditation. It was both eclectic and random and the band really did it justice with Dusty Lee Stephenson [also featuring in 27 Club] on guitar and beautiful harmonies.
‘I am the Walrus’ brought out some audience participation and sound sampling, where the voice of Adelaide Peter Goers lent his chops to some spoken word. An entertaining way to localise an international sound.
Special kudos to the incredible horn section in ‘Hello, Goodbye’ – such a full and wondrous sound!
The instrumentation and vivid resonance in ‘Strawberry Fields’ followed by the Bach inspired ‘Penny Lane’ allowed the orchestra to reference the motivation and composition of this track.
Next up was the Eastern-flavoured ‘Baby, You’re a Rich Man’, one of the best-known pop songs to make use of a clavioline, a monophonic keyboard instrument. A forerunner to the modern synthesizer.
As we come to the end of our trip down memory lane, we are delightfully treated to the most dazzling version of ‘All you need is Love’.
And what is show without an encore?
A thumping rendition of ‘She Loves You’ spontaneously fusing into ‘Hey Jude’ had the crowd on their feet and singing along in utter joy!
I could listen to this music for hours, and the Classical Mystery Tour is a bus I’d gladly jump on again!