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All you need is love, and maybe a dose of the Mersey Beatles, too. Live at The Ark, Liverpool’s Mersey Beatles, a Beatles tribute band, brought down the house with a two-set performance of the Beatles’s number-one hits. Referring to themselves as John, Paul, George and Ringo, the Mersey Beatles stayed true to their idols’ roots. The show was part of their 2021-2022 world tour, including appearances across the Midwest and Southern states.
What sets the Mersey Beatles apart from other covers or tribute bands is their dedication to Beatles nostalgia. The concert was structured by era. First, the rock n’ roll hits of the ’50s were accompanied by buttoned suits and Beatle-bob haircuts. The second set opened with neon Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club costumes (shoulder tassels included), and the third paid tribute to John’s ’70s hair, George’s striped pants and Ringo’s yellow ruffled blouse. Between meticulous outfit changes, the band switched from ensemble hits to more intimate, one-off solos, including a memorable sing-along to “Here Comes the Sun,” led by the Mersey Beatles’s George Harrison.
The Ark is perfect for a cozy concert experience. Seating 400 with benches and tables only a stone’s throw from the stage, Ann Arbor’s beloved music club offers an ideal concert experience: beer and popcorn, plush seating and no raging crowds. More than that, it’s one of those special spaces where old-time music fans and Ann Arbor’s younger crowd come together to share the live music experience.
This writer may have been born after the original Beatlemania, but even I know that the Beatles shouldn’t be experienced sitting down. By the time the lights dimmed and the crowd quieted down, we were up and dancing and twisting the night away.
Balancing beer in one hand, popcorn in the other, the Arts writers of The Daily danced through the first set. Nine 20-somethings in a sea of imposing Beatles veterans, we danced with the kind of wild abandon that only emerges from a mix of embarrassment and daring joy. Surveying an exuberant but still seated audience, Paul called out, “Where are our dancers?” Boldly we responded, “Over here!” Jiving on a 2-by-4 corner of precious real estate, tucked away — but not for long.
“Twist and Shout” and “I Saw Her Standing There” played back-to-back on the closeout of the first set. We went wild. Slinking across the room, never losing the beat, we migrated to John and Ringo’s half of the stage. One then two older couples stepped up to join in our revelry. They put our dance moves to shame while we furiously took notes.
The night ended with a two-song encore, the entire audience finally on their feet. Euphoric from our blast to the past, the motley dancing crew traded the twist for college-style moshing — all to the finale of “Get Back.” In the ringing applause, we gave a salute to our fellow dancing partners. A single, bold attempt was made to entice the Mersey Beatles to sample the fine dining of Fleetwood Diner. Maybe next time, George.
Make the Mersey Beatles your next live show — and if you go, don’t be afraid to get up and dance. While their tour will eventually take them back across the pond, here’s to hoping they “get back to where you once belonged” — on stage at The Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Daily Arts Writer Madeleine Virginia Gannon can be reached at [email protected].
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