Review: fascinating to discover The Songs The Beatles Gave Away with "Whispering" Bob

Review: Bob Harris & Colin Hall – The Songs The Beatles Gave Away, Turner Sims, Southampton. They also play Portsmouth Guildhall on February 4.
Colin Hall and Bob Harris (pic Colin Hall)Colin Hall and Bob Harris (pic Colin Hall)
Colin Hall and Bob Harris (pic Colin Hall)

You sense an evening with Bob Harris couldn’t possibly be anything other than absolutely fascinating – and so it proved as he joined forces with Colin Hall – a former custodian for the National Trust of John Lennon's childhood home – to discuss The Songs The Beatles Gave Away.

And how glorious it was too that they could begin the evening by playing the new Beatles number one – a phrase probably none of us ever thought we would hear again.

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There’s a lovely cartoon doing the rounds. Two chaps are walking past a record shop. There are two posters in the record shop window. One says “Beatles Number One!” The other says “Stones’ New Album!” One chap turns to the other and says “Blimey, just how far did we put the clocks back?”

Well, if this is putting the clocks back, then let’s stay there. It’s a lovely place to be – in the cosy company of Bob and Colin as they chat easily and naturally about a subject so dear to their hearts. They collaborated on the project The Songs The Beatles Gave Away and Colin has now turned it into a book. Now comes the theatre tour – and tonight they played interview clips from their research, clips from the songs and shared the stories behind it all.

How lovely it was to hear from Bob remember John Lennon’s first wife Cynthia so affectionately and so generously; how great it was to be reminded of the story of how Badge became Badge.

But on a night of highlights maybe two things stood out just a little bit more than the others: the tale of how Bob got that landmark interview with John Lennon in New York in 1975; and, goodness this was beautiful, the demo of Cilla Black singing Step Inside Love to Paul McCartney on guitar and humming in the background.

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As if The Beatles own back catalogue weren’t enough, it’s genuinely remarkable to be reminded of the astonishing quality of the songs they gave away. And so lovely to be in such a fabulous venue. If you haven’t visited Turner Sims before (I hadn’t), find a reason to do so. Other dates here as they tour into the New Year.