Sunday, 8 September 2013

The Rutles

Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh
four stars
The irresistible rise of tribute bands over the last few years has made the return of the best Beatles pastiche this side of Oasis inevitable. Originally sired by former Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band stalwart and some-time Monty Python collaborator Neil Innes for sketches on Eric Idle's Rutland Weekend Television show in 1975, The Rutles hit the mainstream via the wickedly observed mock documentary, All You Need is Cash, in 1978. Judging by the authenticity of what are essentially a series of three-minute mash-ups of the Lennon and McCartney songbook, most of the nation's future Brit-pop generation must have watched the film's original screening, because a Brit-pop template is what The Rutles now sound like.

With Innes, aka Nasty, and fellow original Rutle, John Halsey, aka Barry, in tow with a new line-up, Innes kicks things off by singing Happy Birthday to an audience member before launching into Hamburg era soundalike, Goose Step Mama. Innes pulls an oversize Peace medallion from his shirt and dons a pair of psychedelic shades for the trippier numbers, before rewinding back to the mop-top era captured in I Must Be in Love.

As amusing as Innes makes all this, there's something very clever going on in the arrangements of the now five-piece Rutles that goes beyond parody in the Penny Lane-alike Doubleback Alley and the I Am The Walrus-isms of Piggy in the Middle. Just to make things really meta, they play a faithful-sounding cover of George Harrison's All Things Must Pass that suggests that, in other circumstances, The Rutles really could have been bigger than you know who.

The Herald, September 2nd 2013


ends

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