The Bootleg Beatles will please, please you in Portsmouth

The Bootleg Beatles are deep in anniversary territory with seven years of 60th anniversaries ahead of them (Kings Theatre, Southsea, October 5).
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But as Stephen Hill, George in the show, says, they’ve been in celebratory mood for a while – the 50th anniversary of Sgt Pepper in 2017, the 50th of the White album in 2018, Abbey Road in 2019 and Let It Be in 2020. Since then, of course, we've had the release of the three-part massive Get Back film – all of which helps to keep Beatlemania at fever pitch. Now they come to the 60th anniversaries, kicking off with Please Please Me, the debut studio album by The Beatles. Produced by George Martin, it was released in the UK on EMI's Parlophone label on March 22 1963.

And the anniversary is great news, as far as Stephen is concerned: “It means we get to do great tracks such as Anna and Boys and Chains. They are really great songs, and they are great live because that's pretty much how they were done apart from the odd hand clap. They sound so good and we are able to be pretty much exactly as they were done.

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"This is as close to The Beatles as we are able to get. They are quite simple, quite straight forward. Obviously you can do everything but with this it's a lot easier. We've done Mr Kite and Dear Prudence, the ones with the weird sounds and it’s definitely possible to do them. You can work out how to do them and of course we always aim to get as close as we possibly can but with these early songs it is so much easier.”

The Bootleg BeatlesThe Bootleg Beatles
The Bootleg Beatles

Inevitably for the band the recent Get Back film was a massive highlight, showing extensive footage of the Let It Be recording sessions.

“It was just unbelievable. We have all seen lots of grainy bootlegs but to actually see The Beatles in the studio was just fantastic. And for us it's really all about the detail, just thinking about what was George wearing there, the cigarettes they smoked, the ashtrays. We're all immersed in it so much that it's just fantastic to see it at that level.

"I would love to go back to those films again. I think you need to see them a couple of times before you really appreciate everything about them. There's so much going on in the background and you watch it and you just think how cool was Glyn Johns!

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“This is my ninth year in the band. I am a lead guitar player. Britpop came along when I was a teenager. It really kicked off and all those bands that I idolised, you listen to them and you realise the extent of the influence of The Beatles. I guess I just always gravitated towards George. Before I played the guitar, I was very aware of John Lennon but John Lennon is John Lennon and George is just quite someone else – obviously!”

And yes, there is something very particular about his playing: “It's just phenomenal. It is so melodic and also you listen to his slide guitar and you can just imagine that Clapton would have been all over that. I just love his solos.

"You listen to the solo in Not Guilty. There's nothing else like it. And Savoy Truffle and even things like Dig A Pony. You can hear Steve Cradock and Ocean Colour Scene in that and they would admit it. It was all so influential.”

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