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They loved them, yeah, yeah, yeah!

The Blamey Street Big Band in full swing. Photo: Dalice Trost

Music / “Blamey Street Big Band Swings with The Beatles”, conducted by Ian McLean. At the Harmonie German Club, Narrabundah, November 18. Reviewed by LEN POWER.

THE Harmonie German club was really swinging when Ian McLean and his Blamey Street Big Band gave an extra dimension to the much-loved music of the Beatles.

Including at least one song from every Beatles studio album and some of their singles, the 22-piece big band moved from one hit to another, showcasing the extraordinary output from the Beatles’ 13 albums and showing in these arrangements how adaptable the songs were. 

Vocalist Leisa Keen sang many of the Beatles songs with the Blamey Street Big Band. Photo: Dalice Trost

Canberra’s leading jazz vocalist Leisa Keen joined the band for many of the songs, adding an extra sheen to this memorable evening of music.

The band set an appealing, relaxed mood with a delightful jazz-funk arrangement of “Blackbird” and then Keen joined them to sing “Here Comes The Sun” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”. Both songs were superbly sung and played, bringing back memories to those of us (of a certain age) who were around when the songs first burst on to the scene in the ’60s.

Many of the songs had arrangements by the band’s principal saxophone player, Andrew Hackwill, and there were other arrangements written for the Count Basie Big Band, Ella Fitzgerald and others. 

In a first, band member and saxophonist Jack Percy’s beautiful arrangement for “All You Need Is Love” was heard and, surprisingly, Hackwill’s lush new arrangement for the Beatles song, “Now and Then”, released only recently, was hauntingly sung by Keen. 

Ian McLean conducts the Blamey Street Big Band at the Harmonie German Club. Photo: Dalice Trost

In the second half, guest conductor Natalie Dajski, of the Band of The Royal Military College, expertly conducted four songs – “Norwegian Wood”, “Something”, “Octopus’ Garden” and “Eleanor Rigby”. 

The rest of the show was conducted by McLean and included the songs “Yesterday”, “She Loves You” and “Penny Lane” as well as others, most of them sung by Keen.

Each of the evening’s songs was given an interesting, relaxed introduction by the conductors and Keen. Their personable connections with the audience and the fine music played and sung made this a memorable, nostalgic evening of song from the fondly remembered Beatles era.

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