By DAN BROWN
September 2, 2010
If there's a city that's more obsessed with the Beatles than London,
I don't know where it is.
Forty years after they broke up, Londoners continue to fixate on the
band and everything Beatles-related.
The announcement a couple weeks back that the upcoming LOLA fest in
downtown London will feature anti-war art installations made famous
by Yoko Ono and John Lennon is just the latest evidence that when it
comes to the Beatles, and all things Fab Four, this town can't get enough.
Don't believe me?
What about the performance scheduled for next month by the Classical
Live Albums crew, in which Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band,
the landmark album, will be recreated live "note for note, cut for
cut," at Centennial Hall?
Does anyone doubt the show will sell out?
Beatlemania may have died in most Canadian communities when the
Beatles officially disbanded back in 1970, but it didn't end here.
In fact, I'd argue it has only grown more intense in the Forest City
as the rest of the world moved on.
If you want more proof, consider how a bunch of area musicians led
by local Paul McCartney fan Yuri Pool braved the snowy roof of the
Dundas Street Coffee Culture location in January of 2009 with the
goal of recreating the last live performance by the Beatles, the
famed rooftop concert at Apple Studio, on its 40th anniversary.
How much do Londoners still love John, Paul, George and Ringo? A
crowd turned out in the bitter cold.
Nor are Pool and company the only ones who can draw an audience by
rehashing highlights from the Fab Four's exploits.
In March of last year, Oakridge grads Mark Facchin and Jessica Wilkie
camped out in a bed in the display window at Kingsmill's as a tribute
to the Lennon/Ono bed-ins for peace in 1969. Oh, and also to drum up
publicity for Legend, a show about Lennon, at the McManus Theatre.
One theory to explain the group's lasting popularity might be that
London has a high concentration of baby boomers, the generation that
refuses to let go of the act known for such hits as Hey Jude and She
However, even local youngster are getting in on the act as
witnessed by Get Back, a quintet of St. Thomas grade-schoolers that
specializes in Beatles tunes.
The craze got totally out of hand this May, the month Londoners had
their choice of no less than three Beatles-related performances,
including Beatle Mania on Tour The Beatles Experience, in which a
troupe of impersonators demonstrate to the audience what it was like
to be at one of the band's club shows in Germany in the early days.
I don't know about you, but I'm not aware of any other city where the
Beatles still play such a central role in the cultural life of the community.
Maybe the fixation is a money thing. It's not easy to earn a living
as a musician, so by offering nothing but covers local acts can have
a measure of financial stability.
And I don't exclude myself from the collective fascination. Why is
Got To Get You Into My Life my favourite Beatle tune? Because it was
released as a single in 1976; naturally, it got heavy airplay on
local stations like CJBK and CKSL when it re-charted, so it was
drilled into my head as a kid.
I say all of this as someone who has lived across Canada, and also in
England the place that spawned the lads from Liverpool.
You may think I'm arguing the Beatles shouldn't be considered an
influential act. Not true.
But whatever the reason for our lasting fixation, I can't help
feeling a little sad.
At the risk of bringing readers down, there's a downside to our
inability to move on: It's not healthy for London's arts scene to
revolve around a group that's been out of circulation for four
decades, whether it's the Beatles or any other act.
Dwelling on the past is not how a city promotes creativity, in my opinion.