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Classical History Tour with the VSO at the Orpheum Theatre

Classical History Tour with the VSO at the Orpheum Theatre, Vancouver, Dec 2 2008

– by Michael Herle

Ozzy Osbourne once said, “Not liking Beatles music is like not liking breathing air.”

There was great Beatles music at the Classical History Tour with the VSO, but the air, alas, was contaminated by a musical fart.

The evening began  with a tepid muzak-type medley, from “A Hard’s Day’s Night” to a sharp turn into a syrupy “Let It Be.”  Musicianship-wise, the VSO under conductor Martin Herman sounded top-notch, but almost seemed to place too much importance on being earnest.  Too much precision and restraint, too little swing or groove.

But that groove changed when the original members of Beatlemania took the stage.  The swing and the swagger were there–especially with Tony Kishman, who’s been playing Paul McCartney since 1979.  Kishman looks exactly like McCartney–he looks more Paul than Paul!

Other members were less impressive Beatle look-alikes.  Jim Owen, a passable second-cousin resemblance to John, Chris Camilleri looks like what Ringo might look like (if he didn’t look like Ringo), and the rugged Tom Teeley–what George would look like (if George were a caveman).

The lads waited for a second or two, grinning their best Beatle grins, then “Paul” asked “Are you ready?”  and the prefab four broke into “Got to Get You into My Life.”  Just a few songs later, “I Saw Her Standing There” moved the audience to yelp out the “whoas” with guilt-free glee.

Any Beatles band worth its Sgt. Pepper salt has onstage humour.  Our  laddy Tony (“Paul”) did not disappoint those who savour disappointments.  He played Morris Albert’s “Feelings” instead of “Yesterday”.  So annoying!  So awkward!  Now that’s humour!

What’s decidedly not humour is saying jokes so corny you’d have thought they were inspired by the Jolly Green Giant (Ho ho ho) himself.  “If you can remember the 60’s you weren’t there… he suffered for his music, now it’s your turn…”  Is there anyone on the planet who hasn’t heard these numbnuts’ chestnuts?

Ironically, things not intended as jokes became big ones, like the insanely excruciating rendering of “Good Night.”  This musical fart rose above risible, and truly stunk up the whole joint.  “Now it’s time to say good night,” warbled our resident “Ringo”.  Wow.  Easily one of the worst things I’ve seen.  Seriously laughable.

Although “Good Night” almost brought the show to a standstill, the lullaby was not the last song:  “Golden Slumbers/ Carry that Weight” and “The End” set things aright.  An enthusiastic standing-ovation encore of “Hey Jude”, “Twist and Shout” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” turned the Orpheum into a dance hall.  A few VSO members busted a move.  The musical flatulence passed, the air cleared.  And it seemed a splendid time was guaranteed for all.

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