From Abbey Road to the long and winding road to the Alhambra
Fans of the Fab Four are in for a real treat next month when Fife-based tribute band Just Beatles takes to the stage at The Alhambra Theatre in Dunfermline.
The group have firmly established themselves on the tribute band scene across Scotland and have received invitations to play at Beatles festivals all over the UK and Europe, including the world famous International Beatleweek in Liverpool.
Dave Bernthal (George Harrison), Dougie Orr (Paul McCartney), Gary McAuley (Ringo Starr) and Stevie Hunter (John Lennon) will be playing all the hits and more from the early days of Love Me Do and She Loves You through to the psychedelic masterpiece of Sgt. Pepper and classics such as Let It Be and Get Back.
Every aspect of their performances have been perfected in their quest to emulate the Beatles, earning them rave reviews and making them one of the best tribute bands.
Together with authentic instruments, costumes and equipment, audiences will think they are experiencing the Beatles live in concert.
Dave Bernthal, who is from Dunfermline – where the band were originally formed and still rehearse – said they have been playing together for nearly a decade.
He said: “Initially I was asked to cover for a Paul McCartney tribute band, and some of the guys from that band came together and that’s how Just Beatles was formed.
‘‘So, while we have been playing together since 2009, Just Beatles was officially established in 2012.
“We are all from Dunfermline originally although some of us now live elsewhere with Dougie in Bo’ness, Gary in Kelty and Stevie in Edinburgh.”
Dave revealed what audiences can expect from next month’s concert on May 26: “It is an exciting show – we will be playing all the hits as well as some of the not so well known ones for the super fans who will know every single song.
“We cover all the years of the Beatles from the early stuff right through to Sgt. Pepper, Abbey Road and their last gig on the rooftop which was the last time they played live.
“We use the right guitars and costumes and we have spent a lot of time trying to get it right. We have video screens as well which show the famous stage set from when the band played on the Ed Sullivan Show as well as the colours from Sgt. Pepper.
“People expect to see and hear the right gear when they turn up to see the show so we have Paul McCartney’s violin-bass - we had to have that to get the right sound. Heavy metal guitars would just not fit properly, we have to have that vintage look.”
But how do Just Beatles know which tracks to perform for their concerts?
Dave explained: “There are so many songs – it is impossible to do them all so there is a chance we might miss someone’s favourite.
“But we tweak the set so we know which songs go down well with the audience. We are always trying to improve it. When we are doing a run of theatre shows everybody knows what the bases and decks sound like so we have to have it perfected.
“We can’t just suddenly decide to do a song on the night, we have to rehearse it to make sure it is right. We want people to go away from the concert and say that sounded like the Beatles! We have a pool of songs we can choose from, but we don’t play a different set every night.”
He said there are particular songs which the audiences really enjoy: “Twist and Shout and the rock ‘n roll ones - these are the songs which really get people going as well as some of the slower ones like Let It Be.”
The foursome have performed at Beatles festivals all over the UK and Europe and their first gig was in the birthplace of the Fab Four.
Dave said: “There is an annual event in Liverpool called Beatleweek. It runs in August over the Bank Holiday weekend. We played our first gig there.
“We sent a demo to the organisers and we were then asked to play there and there are 70 tribute bands that go. For our first gig we actually performed on the ferry across the Mersey - the water was so choppy we were sliding left and then right while trying to hold onto the amps! We ended up playing three times that night - after the ferry we played a gig at the Adelphi Theatre and then at the Cavern Club – by the time we got to the Cavern Club we had it sorted.
“From that event we were invited to other festivals. One is in France which is known as Beatles Night and it takes place every year. Three bands perform at that and we are lucky enough to be asked to do it. There is also an event in Wales and potentially we are also going to be performing in Belgium this year.”
While they have played at festivals in other towns and cities, Dave said next month’s two-hour concert at The Alhambra will be very poignant because the band is from the town. He said: “We can’t wait to play at The Alhambra – that is the big one for us in Dunfermline.
“We played the Carnegie Hall last year which went down well but we are upping the game to perform at the big one this year.
“As a local lad it makes it more special, although it will be more nerve-wracking because I will be playing in front of my family, but it will be really good.”
Dave revealed that this isn’t the first time he has performed at the popular Fife venue. “The Alhambra has been great for Dunfermline, it has some great acts and I have played there before, but in different guises,” he said.
“I was the guitar player with Steve Agnew and the night the Alhambra opened Nazareth were performing and we were the support band, but this will be the first time Just Beatles has performed there.”
He said the group is looking forward to performing for fellow Fifers.
“The Fife audiences are great and they are always really up for it,” he said. “We have played all around Fife - at the Byre Theatre in St Andrews, Lochgelly Centre and we always have a great night. The great thing about the Fife audiences is that they get the jokes because they are from there. I am not sure if people will know we are a local band, but audiences who know we are local, are really supportive.”
But what makes the Beatles music stand the test of time?
Dave said: “It is the music, people just love The Beatles and they know the songs. It is fantastic for us to be able to perform the best songs in the world. People just love the Beatles’ melodies and they are still fresh today. Everyone has been influenced by them, they had great songs and great albums. The Beatles’ songs are timeless.”
For tickets visit: www.alhambradunfermline.com.