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

Where do you stand on Adele’s No Shuffle dictum in the age of constant change?

Adele’s album sleeve for 30

TWO Big Egos In A Small Car culture podcasters Chalmers & Hutch have their say in Episode 67.

Also under discussion are Blood Youth, heavy metal and heady beer; James & Happy Mondays’ Manchester night in Leeds; Harrogate Theatre’s sublime pantomime, Cinderella; Mick Jagger’s dedication to the blues and House Of Gucci’s style versus content.

To listen, head to:

What hasn’t yet been written about The Beatles that still needs to be said?

FIND out in Episode 61 of Two Big Egos In A Small Car, when arts podcasters Chalmers & Hutch make room for a special guest.

Let it be Knaresborough DJ, author and Beatles buff Rory Hoy, who discusses his new book, The Beatles Acting Naturally: Obscure, Rare, Unfinished And Abandoned Film And TV Projects Of The Fab Four.

Just enough time too to squeeze in Adele’s return and The Rolling Stones leaving Brown Sugar out of their American tour set list.

Head to:

Book ahoy: Rory Hoy holds The Beatles Acting Naturally aloft

Are The Rolling Stones out of time?

TWO Big Egos In A Small Car arts podcasters Chalmers & Hutch ponder the impact of Charlie Watts RIP.

What else pops up in Episode 56? Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon on dealing with sexism in the music industry; serious Britishness in Benedict Cumberbatch’s Cold War chiller-thriller The Courier and Sparks’ new music in Leos Carax’s Annette.

Covid passports and ABBAtars at Olympic Park: is this the future for gigs?

To listen, head to:

Chatty art podcast duo Chalmers & Hutch hit Two Big Egos In A Small Car episode 40

Film director Oliver Stone, snazzy blue glasses and all, discusses his film JFK, politics, more politics, his upcoming documentary and yet more politics in an online interview for Harrogate Film Festival

NO Stone unturned as Two Big Egos In A Small Car podcasters Chalmers and Hutch hit Episode 40 with thoughts on Harrogate Film Festival, Oliver Stone & JFK; Jagger & Grohl’s Slade-meets-Sham 69 lockdown knockdown single Eazy Sleazy; bye-bye Bay City Roller Les McKeown & Jim Steinman RIP; jazz & happiness; no Covid insurance government support, no Deer Shed Festival in 2021 & what next for the summer festival season? Oh, and the return of pub theatre…outdoors in York.

Here’s the link: