Festival of Chichester: fantastic tribute to late, great genius George Harrison

REVIEW: The music of George Harrison with The All Things Must Pass Orchestra, Alexandra Theatre, Regis Centre, Bognor Regis.

Bliss! Pure bliss! This is exactly the night our fantastic Festival of Chichester is all about.

A superb band, which has quadrupled its Festival audience in just two years, delivered a blistering set to a packed house in a new venue for the Festival – a venue which oozed professionalism and friendliness.

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Everyone was a winner in a concert which will linger long in the memory, thanks hugely to the impeccable musicianship of this 11-piece orchestra.

Band leader Alex Eberhard will tell you he needs that many to do justice to the Quiet Beatle’s work; certainly the combination works wonderfully, 11 highly-talented performers who pitch it just right between being as close to Harrison as they possibly can but also being themselves.

They also get the balance just right between the Beatles Harrison and the solo Harrison and between the big hits and the lesser-known gems. Old Brown Shoe and Apple Scruffs were among the latter – great additions to the playlist.

But maybe best of all, the band leaves you pondering: just which is Harrison’s most beautiful song. Obviously, it’s the number they open with, All Things Must Pass. But then they hit you with a While My Guitar which absolutely tingles the spine.

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But then comes Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth). Can any song hit the spot more poignantly than this one right now? Probably not. And then they finish with My Sweet Lord.

So which one is the best? The only answer is all of them, particularly when they are delivered with this degree of skill, this degree of love and this degree of respect.

The All Things Must Pass Orchestra is quite simply an outstanding band, Alex terrific on vocals but also working brilliantly well with guitarists Bernd Rest and Tony Williams. There is something almost Wood/Richards in an interplay which leaves you wondering just who is doing what.

Adding to the fun on Wednesday was very special guest Sam Brown on ukulele.

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The band first played the Festival of Chichester two years ago when they got an audience of 70 in the Pallant Suite. They doubled that number in the same venue last year.

This year, moving to the bigger Regis Centre, they managed to double it again – an achievement which finds its reflection in the pure pleasure they gave.

The Festival of Chichester would love to have them back again next year. And in the meantime, it’s massive thanks to Hazel and the team at the Regis Centre for providing the perfect venue, warm, welcoming and just right in every respect.

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