Formed in the 1960’s The Beatles are still one of the most popular bands ever. During their decade together The Beatles (John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr) had numerous number one albums and singles. They were the center of the British Invasion starting off with pop ballads that over time evolved into more complex psychedelic rock. The Fab Four would inspire countless others to become musicians or in the case of Classical Mystery Tour become The Beatles.
Imagine The Beatles playing in concert with a symphony orchestra. What would that have sounded like? We found out on May 06, 2017 during Classical Mystery Tour’s three night engagement at The Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, Tennessee. The four members in Classical Mystery Tour looked and sounded like The Beatles, but Classical Mystery Tour was more than just a rock concert. Their full show presented The Fab Four’s songs performed and sung as they were written with a full orchestra. Founded in 1996 Classical Mystery Tour has performed with hundreds of orchestras worldwide.
It hard to believe that Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band turns 50 this year but in comparison to classical music it’s still just a child but the two converged magically on Saturday night as the Nashville Symphony performed with Classical Mystery Tour whose set included quite a few tracks from that ground breaking record.
The Orchestra started off the festivities with a multi-layered “Let It Be Medley” before the “mop-top” Classical Mystery Tour strolled out to perform a number of early classics such as “Got To Get You Into My Life” backed by the horn section, “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Eleanor Rigby” with the strings underscoring the sad storytelling of that #1 hit. There was some chat and humor between numbers. Mentioning that the next one was one of the most covered and famous songs ever “Paul” armed with an acoustic jokingly started playing a Johnny Cash tune before returning to the more serious “Yesterday” with the strings adding to the aching sentiments of the song.
The solo allowed the other three time to slip into the Sgt. Pepper uniforms and during “Strawberry Fields” “McCartney” had a chance to put on his blue suit and he was ready to present “Penny Lane” when the time came. In celebration of Pepper’s 50th the group performed selections from the album starting with first three legendary songs along with a colorful “Being For The Benefit of Mr. Kite” with the orchestra effectively crafting the all-important circus sounds and of course “A Day in the Life” was a crowning moment for the polished Nashville Symphony.
After a short intermission the musicians were back with selections from the Beatles’ later years. “I Am The Walrus” was wonderfully weird while “Come Together” still had fans trying to figure out the deeper meaning of the opening track from Abbey Road. Another high point was “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” with “George” pondering why Eric Clapton was a no-show. “Paul” moved to the piano for “Lady Madonna”, “The Long and Winding Road” – an ideal piece to perform with an orchestra and then a lively version of Paul’s “Live and Let Live” from his solo career with the other “Beatles” handling backing vocals.
“John” clad in all white asked the veterans in the audience to please stand as he thanked them for protecting our peace before playing “Imagine”. Bringing side two to a close Classical Mystery Tour presented part of the Abbey Road medley. The Fab Four quickly returned for a fan-engaging encore that featured “Hey Jude” and “Twist and Shout” to end the concert on a fun note.
Throughout the show we realized how much classical music was a part of The Beatles’ compositions. Perhaps part of that was because their producer Sir George Martin aka “The Fifth Beatle” had a background in the genre. Thus to hear these songs with a full orchestra in a live setting was a magical experience. Also, The Beatles themselves basically stopped touring in 1966 so tunes from 1967 and beyond had not been played live by the original four although now a number of incarnations such as Classical Mystery Tour have been presenting these classics in concert for fans of all ages to enjoy.
The Schermerhorn Symphony Center located in the heart of Music City is one of the finest sounding venues in Nashville. Their focus is classical music but the Nashville Symphony hosts a wide range of artists such as Classical Mystery Tour. Upcoming events include The Righteous Brothers, Harry Potter, Arlo Guthrie, A Tribute to Fitzgerald/Armstrong and Boney James.