The White Album Concert
Author: Annelise Ball
Well dressed baby boomers dominate the crowd gathering in Hamer Hall’s multi-level foyers. The White Album Concert brings The Beatles’ seminal double album back to life 44 years post-release thanks to the talents of Tim Rogers, Chris Cheney, Phil Jamieson and Josh Pyke. Cheney’s punk-rock credentials blast the set open with Back In The U.S.S.R. and Glass Onion while Jamieson charms wearing a big bow tie and singing the wistful Dear Prudence. All take part in the crazy Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, with Pyke giving Cheney a blokey, footy-style tap on the bum before walking off once the job is done.
Rogers takes on the early run of wacky, acid-trip tracks dressed in a fetching tweed suit. The timeless While My Guitar Gently Weeps then shifts the tone to moving, all-encompassing intensity. Cheney fills in admirably for Eric Clapton for the compelling lead guitar solo and receives a massive response from the crowd. Pyke successfully maintains total coolness while singing the twee Martha My Dear, but perhaps shows his true feelings when tossing away the tambourine as he walks off. He later recovers by nailing the fingerpicking acoustic beauty of Blackbird.
Helter Skelter is an early highlight from the second side, with two wailing guitarists, double drum kits and Cheney’s ripping guitar solo making huge amounts of awesome noise. Later, Cheney almost misses the start of Savoy Truffle but redeems himself by chucking Cadbury Favourites into the crowd. Two drummers keep perfect time as they bash their kits in mirror image during this rhythmic track. Avant-garde shit gets real with Revolution 9 – a track so trippy and multi-layered that musical director Rex Goh steps up to conduct. Gorgeous lullaby Good Night, greatly improved by the merciful absence of Ringo Starr’s vocals, sees all four artists on stage together to bid us farewell. Rogers whispers, “Goodnight,” and then, “let’s go fuck shit up” – a suggestion that’s probably not often heard on the Hamer Hall stage.
A Day In The Life, an imposter track from Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, lets the rock orchestra loose with its signature instrumental rise to the top of the scales while triumphant octaves crash below. Random punters are hauled up on stage to join the fun during Revolution 1, forcing Jamieson to defend himself against an enthusiastic older lady who tries to pinch his mic. The White Album Concert is definitely the best aural acid trip through the swinging ‘60s you can score.