One of the many lovely things about my sister’s wedding a couple of years ago was her choice of turn* for the reception: a Beatles tribute band called the Beat-Alls, a bunch of East Midlanders who turn into moptops for the weekends, duplicating everything from the vintage instruments to the accents. And “Paul” learned to play left-handed!
In the title essay of Travels in Hyperreality—alongside a lot of pretentious wank—Umberto Eco identified a curious phenomenon of modern museums and theme parks: they create an invented replica of an historical world that is more like our perception of that world than the real thing would be if we could travel through time to experience it.
Barry Miles is Paul McCartney’s biographer. On Radio 4 this morning he marvelled at his experiences of attending Beatles conventions. The Beatles never performed Sergeant Pepper live, and they certainly didn’t wear the suits on stage. It wasn’t possible to perform the record live when it was made. Using current music technology four men can recreate the sound of the album exactly. In front of hordes of convening Beatle-nerds, a bunch of American musicians do so. Wearing the suits.
*northern English slang for live performer, esp. at a working men’s club