Reviews: Pearl Jam, Let It Be and Beryl

Grunge legends Pearl Jam will be coming to the first direct arena this July. Tickets go on sale next Friday. For more information please see attached press release.
Grunge legends Pearl Jam will be coming to the first direct arena this July. Tickets go on sale next Friday. For more information please see attached press release.
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Our reporters have been out and about reviewing some of the best events in the region.

Music

Pearl Jam, Leeds First Direct Arena

It was with immense excitement and expectation that I attended An Evening with Pearl Jam last night at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, having followed the exploits of this band all my adult life.

These guys have released 10 studio albums, amongst many other musical contributions over the years, and the mystery of the set-list alone filled me with glee.

I can assure you they did not disappoint.

The three hours flew by at a phenomenal rate as these uber talented musicians delivered one great song after another - dipping into every one of their 10 albums seamlessly with very little pause for breath.

Frontman Eddie Vedder bounced around the stage as only he does, doing everything in his power to entertain the crowd as if that was his only purpose in life.

The thing that truly astounded me was the power and quality of his voice, after so many years he just seems to get better, like the red wine he drank from the bottle throughout.

The tone of his voice is and the emotion he conveys is incomparable to any other singer on the planet.

The man is a stone cold genius. The rest of the band were also on top form, particularly Mike McCready who was melting faces all night with his breath-taking lead guitar skills.

They were very clever in playing more of the newer material and obscure songs from their huge back-catalogue early on in the set, saving most of the classics from the album Ten such as Alive, Porch, Black and Jeremy for the second encore leading to a thrilling climax.

Particular highlights on the night were Do The Evolution, Rearviewmirror and Sirens from the latest album Lighting Bolt - a record that no musician in the world has a right to be making so late on in their careers.

They are simply on another plain. It was electric.

-Adrian Rawling

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Theatre

Let It Be, Sheffield Lyceum Theatre

It’s quite an undertaking to recreate the biggest band ever on stage and give just a flavour of how much four lads from Liverpool changed music forever but this show achieves that very well.

The show combines performances of 42 of The Beatles’ songs and multi-media images to restage many days in the life, from performing in The Cavern in Liverpool in the early 1960s to when Paul McCartney left in 1970.

The show got off to a quiet start but the fake Fab Four turned on the charm in the manner of their heroes and coaxed the audience up on to their feet to dance, clap and sing along.

The party really got started towards the end of the first half during a section based on The Beatles’ incredible performance to a gigantic crowd at Shea Stadium near New York in 1965. Clever sound effects emulated the sheer noise of Beatlemania at its height.

Reuven Gershon was the most convincing as John Lennon, both in terms of voice and personality, but Emanuele Angeletti took a while to get into his stride as Paul McCartney. Stephen Hill showed incredible musical ability as ‘quiet lad’ George Harrison and Luke Roberts was an effective Ringo.

The best parts were when the show turned into a Beatles concert you wished you’d been to, complete with two encores. Storming stuff.

Beryl, West Yorkshire Playhouse

Rarely have I experienced such a huge amount of goodwill towards a play even before the lights have gone down.

Although perhaps that’s because the play begins before the lights go down and four intensely likeable actors step beyond the fourth wall and discuss how much or little they knew about Beryl Burton before they were cast in a play about her life.

When the the play proper begins, the audience is willing this little play to succeed as much as Beryl Burton’s devoted husband Charlie willed her across the finish line at each and every title she won.

Beryl’s is an extraordinary story. A woman from Morley who conquered the world of cycling, it is written with huge heart by playwrighting debutante Maxine Peake.

The problem with telling a story like this is that it can very easily lack drama.

Event leads to event, first she won this race, then she won that race.

Fortunately, the story is incredibly special.

The acting is bursting with joy and the writing knows its Northern audience.

Indeed, despite being from the wrong side of the Pennines, Peake even takes the name of Lancashire in vain in search of a laugh. Admirable.

In a sports drama, the dramatic part is the hero’s battle with themselves and Peake pulls it off.

There were several teary audience members as they watched Beryl overcome obstacle after obstacle.

It’s no coincidence that this play, about a cycling superhero, is on right now.

But even if the circus wasn’t in town, this is a play well worth celebrating.

-Nick Ahad