The then and now and Now And Then of the Bootleg Beatles at York Barbican tomorrow

Bootleg Beatles: Get back to York Barbican tomorrow night

LET’S start at the end: the “final” Beatles song, Now And Then, the Fab Four’s 18th chart topper and first in 54 years since 1969’s The Ballad Of John And Yoko.

Yes, the fastest-selling vinyl single of the 21st century will be incorporated into the Bootleg Beatles’ perfectly timed return to York Barbican tomorrow night (13/12/2023).

“It will feature towards the end of the show, in the section when we’re covering the final years of The Beatles,” says Steve White, who is entering his 12th year as the tribute band’s Paul McCartney.

“We hope people are moved by it, the way we present it with the lighting. I’ve seen a video of our performance and it’s really quite haunting.”

First watching the documentary that accompanied the reawakened ghost of  John Lennon’s ballad, with its combination of Lennon’s original late-1970s’ demo, 1994 guitar lines by George Harrison and new parts by McCartney and Ringo Starr, Steve felt the hair on the back of his neck standing up on encountering Lennon’s vocal, separated through the magic of AI.

“It’s a melancholy song, appropriate for the end of The Beatles, and then having to learn it, I could have broken down in tears when we played it for the first time at The Crown in Melbourne on our Australian tour,” he says. “The moment we started the first chord, the crowd just stood up. It was an amazing feeling.”

The song’s title could not be more apt: the now and the then of The Beatles. “We have lost two already, and there are two to go, so to speak. We’re never gonna see anything like them again. Never ever going to see the real thing again,” says Steve.

“With every year that ticks by, we appreciate more than ever that Paul and Ringo are part of the UK’s fixtures and fittings. I’m dreading when they go. Paul is my absolute hero.

“I don’t know him and yet I feel like I know him, and it will feel like losing a member of the family when the day comes. I just hope that I get the chance to say hello, shake his hand and thank him for all the music he has brought us, telling him ‘you are the most amazing musician there’s ever been’. That’s all I’d want to say. He means so much to me.”

Nottinghamshire musician Steve had first been a member of The Beatles Experience with three friends. “We didn’t set out to be a Beatles band but a Sixties’ covers band, but we were all huge fans of The Beatles and kind of based ourselves on them,” he recalls.

“We used to do a few Beatles songs in the set, and someone asked if we could  play just Beatles songs at their 60th birthday party, then a wedding anniversary, and it began to overshadow our Sixties’ tribute show.”

At the time, Steve was the band’s rhythm guitarist, “effectively John Lennon”, he says. “But people kept saying you have to be Paul, because you look more like him – I’m blessed with the eyebrows! – so me and the bass player switched over.

“That meant I had to learn to play [guitar] left-handed, being a right hander. To get to a very crude level of playing took me three months, playing six to eight hours a day, then gradually getting more professional to fill in the blanks.”

Steve went on to audition for the Bootleg Beatles, first sending in a video, then auditioning in person, the process whittling down the applicants to “serious contenders to play with the rest of the band to see how we gelled”.

White, who had seen the Bootleg Beatles many times, was the right fit and continues to travel the long and winding road through the Fab Four Sixties after more than a decade of Bootleg service.

For the past six years, he has been accompanied on the nostalgia trip by Tyson Kelly’s John, Steve Hill’s George and Gordon Elsmore’s Ringo as they re-create the sound and look of each Beatles’ phase in fastidious detail.

“We always go through the Beatles’ career from start to finish, picking out the key points, and so many are iconic, but you can switch the material, like the choice of psychedelic songs,” says Steve. “This show is markedly different: different costumes, guitars, material – and Now And Then of course.

“As usual, we’ll be travelling with our resident orchestra too, four brass and four string players, and another guy, who plays keys.”

The Beatles are back with Now And Then and expanded reissues of their Red and Blue compilations, just as old rivals The Rolling Stones resurface with Hackney Diamonds, their first album of original material since 2005’s A Bigger Bang.

Steve will always be in the Beatles camp. “The Rolling Stones, no discredit to the Stones, as they’re an incredible, iconic band, but they do have a ‘sound’, more of a blues edge. Early on The Beatles were more popified, the ‘unclean’ Stones were more edgy, still are, but The Beatles went on to be so diverse in such a short time together, spanning pretty much everything,” he says.

“How could you ever pigeonhole The Beatles? You couldn’t. It’s impossible.”

Bootleg Beatles, York Barbican, December 13, 7.30pm. Box office:

Everly Brothers’ tribute show Walk Right Back heads to Grand Opera House in June

Lars Pluto and Luke Wilson as The Everly Brothers in Walk Right Back

WALK Right Back, the Everly Brothers tribute show, is back on tour, playing the Grand Opera House, York, on June 12.

From the producers of That’ll Be The Day, it tells the story of the most successful close-harmony duo of all time: country-rock pioneers Phil and Don Everly, from Knoxville, Tennessee.

Bye Bye Love, All I Have To Do Is Dream, Cathy’s Clown, Wake Up Little Susie, Bird Dog, Crying In The Rain, Walk Right et al feature in this concert-based musical that “entwines the wonderful, sad yet glorious story of The Everly Brothers around those trademark harmonies from heaven”.

Performed by Lars Pluto and Luke Wilson, Walk Right Back – The Everly Brothers Story follows the American brothers’ rise to fame, through their decade-long feud, to the reunion that gave them back to the world and back to each other.

Accompanied by steel-string acoustic guitar, The Everly Brothers influenced The Beatles, who referred to themselves as “the British Everly Brothers” when Paul McCartney and John Lennon went hitchhiking south to win a talent competition.  

The Fab Four based the vocal arrangement of Please Please Me on Cathy’s Clown. McCartney later referred to “Phil and Don” in the lyrics to Let’Em In, from the 1976 album Wings At The Speed Of Sound.

Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards called Don Everly “one of the finest rhythm [guitar] players”. Paul Simon, who worked with the Everlys on the song Graceland, said on the day after Phil’s death: “Phil and Don were the most beautiful-sounding duo I ever heard. Both voices pristine and soulful. The Everlys were there at the crossroads of country and R&B.  They witnessed and were part of the birth of rock’n’roll.”

Tickets for next month’s 7.30pm performance are on sale at

Steve Hackett revisits Foxtrot to find new revelations in Genesis at York Barbican

Steve Hackett: Visiting York Barbican to revisit Genesis’s 1972 album Foxtrot

GUITARIST Steve Hackett’s 25-date Genesis Revisited – Foxtrot At Fifty tour arrives at York Barbican on Saturday night (24/9/2022).

Hackett had joined the English progressive rock band in 1971, and Foxtrot would be their fourth album, recorded in August and September 1972 for release on Charisma on October 6 that year.

“We were a young, struggling band at that time,” recalls Pimlico-born lead guitarist Steve, now 72, who played with Peter Gabriel, Phil Collins, Mike Rutherford and Tony Banks until 1977.

“By the time we were doing Foxtrot, the band was becoming more ambitious. Foxtrot is a must for fans of the early Genesis work. Fifty years ago? It doesn’t feel like those ideas are 50 years old because it was-genre defining, rather than following trends. It still sounds current now.”

Foxtrot, the one with Genesis’s longest-ever song, all 22 minutes and 52 seconds of the album-closing Supper’s Ready, became a college student staple of the Seventies. “I’ve got one or two friends saying it was the record that got them through college, got them through isolation, and that played its part in the Genesis back story, that connection with Foxtrot, that romance with it,” says Steve.

“Peter was enacting things theatrically from his lyrics to personify Genesis, and there were so many elements that went into constituting Genesis’s magic. Music sticks with people when it affects them when they’re young, when the school curriculum is being forced on them and you’re told you have to be good at school.”

Foxtrot became the first Genesis album to make the UK charts, its diversity encapsulated in the science fiction-influenced Watcher Of The Skies and the social commentary of Get ‘Em Out By Friday, with its  depiction of concrete tower blocks replacing ageing slums, not out of concern for communities but driven by the greed of developers.

Hackett, meanwhile, was the lead writer of Can-Utility And The Coastliners and also contributed his classically inspired solo piece Horizons.

Fifty years on, Steve returns to Foxtrot in concert in the company of two Swedes, Nad Sylvan, vocals, and Jonas Reingold, bass and backing vocals; Roger King, keyboards; Rob Townsend, saxophone, flutes and keys, and Craig Blundell, drums.

“Over the years, I’ve played with orchestras to expand the sound, and now, the way it can be presented live is with an expanded sound palette, with real brass, real woodwind, as well as keyboards,” says Steve.

“It’s music that’s survived well beyond its sell-by date. Maybe ‘classical’ music has to be 100 years old, but this is 50 years old. I was part of creating it, and going back to it, I’m struck by the breadth of Foxtrot.

The tour poster for Steve Hackett’s Genesis Revisited – Foxtrot At Fifty

“People will have their favourites, maybe they’re attracted to the more proggy moments or maybe the less proggy, but what matters is that it stuck with them. Songs that first struck me as ‘just another of our pieces’, now I look back and think it’s very detailed music, as detailed as a five-piece band could be.”

Steve is revelling in broadening the Foxtrot canvas. “It takes a lot of rehearsal, but the gigs have been going very well. Now we can add the reverb, which is all part of the detail, and it all sounds much bigger than it did on the record. It’s music that was written to be performed live within palace walls in Italy, where the music could be recorded around the rooms and you got the feel of a space age band playing,” he says.

“Now, on this tour, the little Cinderella songs get the chance to go to the ball. I want to be authentic, but to expand, to extend, the sound is important. I don’t want it to be a slavish reproduction of the record, so we’re doing three-part harmonies rather than one-and-a-half-part harmonies.”

What happens to Supper’s Ready, Steve? “At the end, I tend to take it to the mountain and then keep it going, so I’m striking a balance between reverence and having a rave-up,” he says. “It’s not a heavy metal show but to have these wide dynamics brings it alive.”

Although the term “prog rock” has negative connotations for nay-sayers, Steve prefers to think of the possibilities of such flexible music-making. “It’s supposed to involve everything, so that it will evolve to include world music, the blues, whatever. That’s why it’s ‘music from heaven’,” he says.

“I’ve just got this love of classical music; my guilty pleasure was listening to [Spanish classical guitarist Andre] Segovia at the same time as watching Jimi Hendrix, and then the baroque and the blues did come together. Music without prejudice is the ideal; the stuffed shirt making way for letting it all hang out.”

Steve continues: “John Lennon said some nice things about our [Genesis] music; Yehudi Menuhin used some of my music, and if there was a point that they agreed on, I had their ear for a few seconds.”

Steve, who “wants to be the glue” that bonds different musical forms, reflects on the Steve Hackett of today and of 50 years ago. “The similarities between these two different times in my life is that I’m still trying to get it right. It’s never finished. One lifetime is never enough if you’re dead serious. Music doesn’t end with Chuck Berry. It goes on,” he says.

“In heaven, my ideal band would have both Lennon and Menuhin in it. Maybe their confluence came with Eleanor Rigby, as realised by George Martin.”

Looking ahead to Saturday, Foxtrot will be preceded by an hour of “Hackett Highlights”, drawn from both his Genesis and solo catalogues. Be ready for much more than Supper’s Ready.

Steve Hackett, Genesis Revisited – Foxtrot At Fifty + Hackett Highlights, York Barbican, Saturday (24/9/2022), 7.30pm; Sheffield City Hall, September 30, 7.45pm. Box office: York,; Sheffield,; both concerts, and

FortyFive Vinyl Café has 30 free tickets for John & Yoko’s Imagine film screening

The poster for the remastered Imagine, John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s film

IMAGINE there are free tickets to see the 50th anniversary screening of John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Imagine film.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one, I hope someday you’ll join us for an exclusive show at FortyFive Vinyl Café, the Micklegate café bar, record store and music venue in York.

That day will be Thursday, September 9, but hurry, hurry, because only 30 tickets for the 7.30pm event are available to reserve via

FortyFive Vinyl Café will present this in-person screening of the remastered 1972 film in surround sound in collaboration with the Music Venue Trust, in celebration of the song, album and film.

Meanwhile, Charlatans’ frontman Tim Burgess’s Tim’s Twitter Listening Party will host a simultaneous online Listening Party event, where the experience of watching and listening to the music of John & Yoko’s film will be enhanced by a second-screen Twitter experience.