The Beatles: LOVE

Fab Four mash-up brings the magic back to the circus

No, you haven’t picked up Nostalgia Monthly by mistake, and this isn’t the classic albums page. Why, then, is NME reviewing a band who haven’t released any new material since 1970 (‘Free As A Bird’ and ‘Real Love’ don’t count), and half of whom couldn’t even if they wanted to? It must be love. Cirque Du Soleil’s LOVE, that is – a Beatles-based circus show that opened this year in Las Vegas.

Rather than the jazz-handed taste-holocaust of most rock musicals, this old-new mash-up is the closest thing you’ll get to a new Fab Four album. Created from the master tapes by ‘fifth Beatle’ and production god George Martin, it’s also their first ever release in 5.1 surround sound. The resulting remixes and medleys, as heard on equipment that probably costs more than your house at Abbey Road, could make you weep with joy. It may not sound as good on a common-or-garden stereo, but you’ll still mist up a bit.

The reworkings are mostly subtle: an alternate vocal here, extra strings or brass there, beefed-up bass and drums… The overall effect is to transform tracks so familiar you barely hear them anymore from historical documents into living songs, in startlingly clear, modern sound. Most exciting are ‘Sgt Pepper’s…’-era tracks like ‘A Day In The Life’, where psychedelic excesses are stripped back to reveal, not just musical landmarks, but the thrilling sound of four lads from Liverpool gleefully chucking the plot in the bin.

Though “best band in the known universe” hyperbole is too easy, class of 2006 doesn’t come off well by comparison. It may not be quite all you need, but ‘LOVE’ still conquers (almost) all.

Emily Mackay