The Bootleg Beatles Take Us Down Strawberry Fields

The street outside of Teatro Caupolicán was quiet on the Friday night The Bootleg Beatles played, except for the muted, familiar sound of one of the world's most beloved bands coming from behind red double doors.

Photo by Carolina Bastías Fuentes
Photo by Carolina Bastías Fuentes

The Bootleg Beatles are not your typical cover band. In fact, they are not a cover band at all, but a tribute band--and a damn good one at that. Made up of John (Neil Harrison), Paul (David Catlin-Birch), George (Andre Barreau) and Ringo (Hugo Degenhardt), each a talented musician in his own right, the group has their act down pat with over 25 years of international touring experience under their belt.

Photo by Carolina Bastías Fuentes
Photo by Carolina Bastías Fuentes

The familiar British twang and deliciously moody sway of songs like, "Don't Let Me Down" and "Eleanor Rigby," paired with the eerie physical resemblance of the band to the original four caused quite a commotion. "Paul's" mannerisms and voice were so remarkable and authentic girls behind me kept saying "Él es muy lindo!!! (He is so cute!!!)".

In between songs, the chatter on stage was nervous and bumbling, peppered with a few "muchas gracias" and instructions to "clap your manos." Each album meant an outfit change, a hairstyle change and even the sporting of mustaches for "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band." The performance was that of a play, narrating the band's greatest hits and albums over the years.

Photo by Carolina Bastías Fuentes
Photo by Carolina Bastías Fuentes

By the time the band got to "The White Album," the performance had felt like a convincing theme park ride; peace signs had popped up in the swaying crowd as psychedelic images were projected on stage. "John" joked, "just one more song before we go off and get a bit older" before playing a hauntingly beautiful version of "A Day in the Life" on keyboard.

The harmony and uncanny resemblance to the real John, Paul, George and Ringo had the entire theater on the edge of their seats. An encore of "Imagine" gave the crowd chills and produced a standing ovation to which "Paul" and "John" both awkwardly replied, "muchas gracias," before taking a bow and ambling off stage.

While the show was a little costumey and a bit campy, the overall product was spot-on. The smell of cigarettes and old velvet theater chairs, polyester and incense, the girls shrieking, the band’s honest pop vocals and dreamy lyrics made the whole theater feel a little younger, a bit nostalgic and wholly convinced that all we really need is love.

The Bootleg Beatles
May 7, 2010
Teatro Caupolicán
San Diego 850

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