Abbey Road 80th Anniversary Concert Reviewed
AMERICAN EXPRESS @ SYMPHONY IN THE PARK
London Chiswick House And GardensWords: Malcolm Dome
Is there any other studio in the world that would generate such interest in its 80 birthday as has Abbey Road? Surely only this venerable legend would inspire a respected orchestra to perform a two-hour concert of songs recorded by a diverse range of artists linked by only by the said studio.
But such was the case here, as the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra delivered a flawless presentation to an audience ranging in age from six months to 70-plus, most of whom were picnicking on the grass.
The setting was quite beautiful and breathtaking, with Chiswick House providing a regal backdrop, as the orchestra launched the musical activity with Land Of Hope And Glory – well, there must have been a lot of different recordings of this classical masterwork done at Abbey Road down the years.
Inevitably, the Beatles provided the centrepoint of the occasion, with close on half the repertoire drawn from their catalogue. No surprise, really, as they are the act most associated with Abbey Road. This followed their career from the early days of pop innovations like Help and Hard Day’s Night through to the more progressive A Life In The Day – and this last track was quite brilliantly tackled, showing the orchestra’s ability to delve into the intricacies of the orginal.
But it was the start of the second half of the performance that was especially striking. It began with a re-scored version of Pink Floyd’s Time (done by Jaz Coleman), which led into John Lennon’s Imagine, before Bohemian Rhapsody (yes, that Queen one!) was bought vividly to life and then Live & Let Die was thunderously delivered, as the Paul McCartney & Wings anthem was made to sound heavier than ever.
There were also notable numbers from Kate Bush and Radiohead, before it was all brought to a climax with a return to the Beatles and All You Need Is Love.
It was an evening that saw a world class orchestra celebrating timeless songs in a timely fashion for a great music institution. It also proved that when done like this, orchestral versions of pop and rock masterworks can provide a new dimension.