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Aussie ‘Fab Four’ pays homage to Beatles’ White Album

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Four of Australia’s best male vocalists are joining forces to celebrate arguably one of the greatest albums of all time in Newcastle this month.

Chris Cheney (The Living End), Grinspoon’s Phil Jamieson, Tim Rogers (You Am I) and ARIA Award-winning solo artist Josh Pyke will take to the stage to perform The Beatles’ White Album from start to finish at Civic Theatre on Friday 15 September.

It follows sold out tours in 2009, 2014 and 2018.

The quartet is backed by a 17-piece rock orchestra, led by musical director Rex Goh, with guitars, strings, horns and two drummers.

“I come from a three-piece band, that’s what I’ve done since high school, so it’s such a thrill to be with so many people,” Cheney said.

“The great thing about The White Album Concert is it’s a big, powerful rock show.

“It’s incredible to be standing in front of that force.”

Released on 22 November 1968, The Beatles’ self-titled ninth studio offering became known as the White Album due to its distinctive plain white cover.

It spent 16 weeks at number one in Australia.

Opening with Paul McCartney’s Back In The U.S.S.R and concluding with Good Night, sung by Ringo Starr, the 30-song record features classics such as Helter Skelter, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Blackbird, Why Don’t We Do It In The Road?, Glass Onion, Birthday and Revolution 1.

It is a timeless album, yet very much of its time.

But, Cheney, Jamieson, Pyke and Rogers stress they’re not imitating John Lennon, McCartney, George Harrison and Starr.

“We’re bringing what we do in our own bands and our own careers to the show,” The Living End frontman said.

“This is not us pretending to be The Beatles.”

“We’re aware there are people who covet the group’s records and their legacy so dearly,” Rogers added.

“And, we want to pay respect to that, but almost tickle it a little bit, or prick it a little bit, because we’re not a tribute act and we have no desire to do that.

“So, we want to reinterpret it but not be disrespectful.”

“None of us does the songs exactly the way The Beatles did them, because then it would be like a pastiche rather than a homage,” Pyke said.

“It’s a completely different mindset to get into someone else’s songs and, like Tim said, show the songs the respect they deserve; not just cover a song but really put yourself into it.

“It’s such a diverse record.

“And, it was kind of an experimental album for them at the time.

“It’s hard to sum it up and I think that’s the beauty of the record and why so many people love it.”

The quartet is also doing something The Beatles never did – performing the White Album “live”.

“That’s the other cool thing about this project,” Jamieson said.

“You can’t go on YouTube and look up The Beatles playing anything off the White Album because they just didn’t.

“When we first did it, we didn’t know what it would be, or how it would work.

“It was an incredibly nerve-racking experience because it’s a mammoth record and the material is so diverse.

“But, we made it work.

“People really enjoyed it… and we got such a kick out of it.

“So, we’re excited to be doing it again.”

THE ARTISTS:

  • CHRIS CHENEY is the lead singer and guitarist in The Living End, who have had eight Top 10 albums (including two number ones), 12 Top 40 singles, and won six ARIA Awards. Fun fact: Chris has met a Beatle – he met Ringo at a party in LA.
  • PHIL JAMIESON is the frontman of Grinspoon, who have released seven studio albums – all of which have made the Top 10 – and won two ARIA Awards. He also starred as St Jimmy in the Australian production of the Broadway musical American Idiot. Fun fact: Phil’s wife, Julie, walked down the aisle to the White Album’s I Will.
  • JOSH PYKE is a Sydney singer-songwriter, who has won four ARIA Awards and had five Top 10 albums. He has also had his own beer, The Summer, with Sydney brewery Young Henrys. Fun fact: Josh’s favourite line on the White Album is “In a couple of years” from Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da. “I just think that’s great.”
  • TIM ROGERS is the frontman of You Am I, who have released 10 studio albums, won 10 ARIA Awards, and had three number one albums. He has also released six solo albums and an acclaimed memoir, Detours, in which he is described as a flamboyant flâneur, a raconteur, a romantic, and a raffish ne’er-do-well. Fun fact: Tim had a babysitter who would play Revolution 9 when young Tim was trying to go to sleep. “That song has always haunted me.”

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