Dubbed the “quiet Beatle”, Harrison enjoyed a creative outpouring after the collapse of The Beatles, with the release of his landmark triple album All Things Must Pass – the title singer and guitarist Alex Eberhard gives to his band.
For Alex, the Bognor show comes at the end of a strong summer, during which he launched his spin-off Beatles trio Cellophane Flowers for dates including the Festival of Chichester.
The summer also saw six gigs for The All Things Must Pass Orchestra, double the number they played last summer: “We have been going now for five years, and we have a clear vision to take the band around the UK and maybe also to Europe, but actually it is a full-time job trying to organise a ten-piece band. Ideally we would need a promoter if we are to take it further!” But the signs are good. “The orchestra has matured and feels quite settled now. The original nervousness that we had at the beginning has gone now, and everyone in the band just really enjoys what they do. There is no history. We have a lot of fun and we get lovely emails after gigs. People really enjoy them, and we have got a loyal following now.”
George Harrison remains the great inspiration: “If you talk to a lot of musicians, they will tell you that George was the most advanced of all The Beatles. His songs are not like your usual pop-song formulas. They have always got very quirky things happening in them, and it never gets boring. We have been playing these songs for five years now, but it never gets dull. We have never once thought ‘Not that one again!’
“My favourite song is probably Isn’t It A Pity. It is quite an emotional song, and I usually feel a real connection to the audience. I have had great feedback. People feel a strong emotional bond with the music. It’s communicating something that goes beyond the words, and I think I come to understand the song better the more I play it.”
For Bognor, Alex promises to bear in mind it’s a festival and that some people in the audience won’t necessarily be George Harrison devotees. For that reason, he will be putting the emphasis on the hits. You can expect songs including All Those Years Ago, Handle With Care, Got My Mind Set On You, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Here Comes The Sun, Something, Savoy Truffle, Old Brown Shoe and I Need You.
The full Blakefest line-up on Saturday, September 15 ([email protected]) is:
Alexandra Theatre: 9.30pm Lene Lovich Band; 8pm All Things Must Pass Orchestra (George Harrison tribute); 7.30pm Mister Solo (Mikey Georgeson); 7pm Tobias Churton: Blake and the Sixties.
Studio: 5.45pm Jamie Leeming Trio – Starring Emily Dankworth; 4.15pm Poetry and Jazz, featuring Sasha Dugdale, Niall McDevitt, Naomi Foyle and Barry Smith; 3.30pm Lem and the White Fire; 2.45pm Surreal Man & the Nutter in the Shrubbery, Poetry & Celtic Music, feat. Ciaran O’Driscoll & John Davies; 2pm The Boy Wonders; 1.30pm David Farnan; and 12.30pm A Blade of Grass.