Get your lighters ready in the air, and prepare yourselves for a two-hour sing-a-long: The Bootleg Beatles are coming to The Bee, Publika on Nov. 16.
The world’s most femes Beatles cover band started in 1980, and has played all over the world, including a 60-gig tour in the U.S.S.R. when that was a thing.
Beatlemania has not eluded us here at Coconuts KL — A Day in the Life remains, to us, most humbly, one of the greatest songs ever written, and young George Harrison had a face that lined our teenage dreams.
The last original member of the band left in 2014, having played with the group since 1980, and they had the honor of playing at Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Party at Buckingham Palace.
The current band line-up has graced the stages of the legendary Glastonbury, as well as Hyde Park’s summer festival. They’ll even be in Coconuts sister city Hong Kong later this month as part of the Clockenflap music festival lineup.
We got the chance this week to ask them a few questions recently about what it’s like playing planet Earth’s most famous songs all over the world.
You guys have been performing for a long time. Have you noticed a shift in fan favorites throughout the years?
Adam Hasting (John Lennon): Everybody always loves songs like She Loves You or Hey Jude, but occasionally, certain songs will have a bit of a boost for some reason. At the moment, many of the Sgt. Pepper songs are popular because of the album anniversary.
Steven White (Paul McCartney): Overall, not really — barring a few quirky ones that get requested from time to time.
Stephen Hill (George Harrison): Not really, you can pretty much play anything from the Beatles catalogue and people will enjoy it. You have to keep the usual suspects in: She Loves You, Help, Hard Days Night etc. You can slip lesser known songs in the set throughout the show. It’s nice to surprise the audience with something they wouldn’t think they were going to hear that night.
Gordon Elsmore (Ringo Starr): The songs that all audiences seem to love are Hey Jude and All You Need is Love, which can be quite a moving experience when an audience of thousands are singing along.
Hey Jude is crazy popular in Japan, can you tell us what songs are popular in different countries? Anything random? (Coconuts has offices across Southeast Asia, so any Southeast Asia anecdotes are greeeat!)
John: In Mongolia, they love Let It Be.
Paul: Hey Jude seems to be the world’s favorite, to be fair.
George: I would say A Day in the Life is one where you can see the audience sit and really listen to everything that’s going in , especially the build up in the middle and then again at the end before the final chord.
Ringo: The ballad songs like Michelle were very popular in the Philippines.
Who’s your favorite Beatle?
John: Ringo, just because he’s very lovable.
Paul: Paul. Great vocalist, musician and song writer. One of the worlds earliest pioneers of the bass guitar. We share the same birth month too. (Ed: Geminis united, y’all!)
George: If I had to pick one it would have to be Paul, just for writing Golden Slumbers! ( I love’em all equally, of course).
Ringo: I think Ringo, because he is the most “normal”. People identify with him most because he seemed to get along with everybody.
Yeah, people love Ringo. He’s def the one you want to have a pint with. People often use the term ‘Fifth Beatle’ to describe ex members or important figures within the band. Do The Bootleg Beatles have a fifth Beatle?
John: George Martin (Ed: Legendary Beatles record producer)
Paul: Raj Patel.
George and Ringo: Mr. Max Langley, helping out on piano, percussion, Moog, and the occasional fire bell for Penny Lane. He also sets our equipment up and seems to know what’s going on.
Are y’all excited to play Malaysia? Anything you’re looking forward to, or expect?
John: Looking forward to meeting the people who come to the concerts.
Paul: Nothing I’m particularly looking forward to specifically, just hoping for a friendly atmosphere and some memorable shows.
George: You never what to expect some nights, so get yourself along and see what happens.
Ringo: The sun and the food.
The Beatles are totally timeless. Do you think that for the same reasons, they’re also cross-cultural?
John: Music (along with football) is a universal language, so the best of it will always seem to communicate to the most people, no matter where they’re from.
Paul: In even the most of remote countries where English isn’t spoken or understood very well, the people can always sing along to a Beatles song. I’d say yes.
George: The Beatles influenced a hell of a lot of things during the ’60s and have continued to do so ever since, whether it’s other bands, clothing styles or haircuts. You can spot a Beatle fan a mile off.
Ringo: Everybody has a favorite Beatles song. It doesn’t matter where they come from. It’s difficult to explain, but everybody feels that the Beatles are part of their life, wherever they are.
Best solo Beatle effort?
John: Paul McCartney, RAM.
Paul and Ringo: Imagine.
George: There’s a lot of them, I don’t want to pick the obvious ones — so let’s go with Photograph by Ringo. Have a listen if you’ve not heard it.
Speaking of not heard — what do you think is the most underrated Beatles song, that probably isn’t top of mind?
John: When I Get Home.
Paul: Don’t really have an answer.
George: Are there any? It’s not really obscure but McCartney’s Junk is fantastic. You don’t really hear that one much, so give that a play.
Ringo: Dear Prudence.
Have Ringo or Paul ever been to your gigs? Awkward? Fun?
John, Paul, and Ringo: Nope.
George: If they did, we didn’t know about it. Our managers have met Paul and George a couple of times. Our McCartney (Steve White) has a couple of stories but I’ll leave those to him.
OK OK — so on the subject of other cover bands, let’s play a game of “would you rather”. No Way Sis (Oasis cover band) or Lez Zeppelin (all-female Led Zeppelin cover band): Which would you rather see?
John: I’d rather go to a Newcastle match
Paul: If I had to go, then Lez Zeppelin — but honestly, neither.
George: No Way Sis for me, thank you very much!
Ringo: ARGH!!!!!! TOO DIFFICULT!! NOT SURE. But probably Lez Zeppelin.
BONUS ROUND. Cover band names can be some of the most hilarious word play. What are the best you’ve heard?
John and George: Blobbie Williiams. (Ed: AHahahahhahaha)
Paul: I don’t really know any.
Ringo: Pete Loaf. His name is Pete. He covers Meatloaf. Meatloaf + Pete = Peatloaf. (Ed: AHahahahahah)
There you have it, Kuala Lumpur. It’s time to show these guys that we too, know all the words to Hey Jude. (Na na na na na, na na na, hey Jude. Na na na na na, na na na, hey Jude… REPEAT 1,000 x’s).