BY ROSEMARY PHILLIPS
What is your memory of the Beatles? I was just 13 when they arrived in North America. As a recent immigrant I was instantly popular, not for who I was but because I was English and had an accent.
“Have you seen The Beatles?” I was often asked. In North America it was the British Invasion. Lennon and McCartney were writing pop songs with almost irrelevant words, but as their songwriting grew in sophistication, John, Paul, George and Ringo created a musical legacy that has transcended the world, and received countless honours and awards, including Grammy and Oscar. Fifty years later their songs are still enjoyed by all ages in just about every culture.
“It’s music that will last forever, like classical music,” says Jean Meilleur, lead singer with the Jeans’N Classics Band. “You can’t say that about most popular music. In our history books the Beatles will be a massive root in the tree of popular music. I’ve always loved it, and it’s quite a moving experience to sing it.”
Meilleur is a prolific singer-songwriter who has been performing professionally for more than 25 years, 16 of those as a Jeans’N Classics headliner singing with scores of major North American orchestras.
“I sing songs by all four of the Beatles. This in itself is quite an experience because each of them had different musical inflections and tonal qualities. Their voices have become so ingrained in us over the years, and without conscious effort we pronounce certain words the same way they did. This is proof positive as to how deeply the Beatles are ingrained in our musical minds.”
On Saturday (April 26), Meilleur joins the Vancouver Island Symphony and the Jeans’N Classics Band for two shows at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Port Theatre for The Best of the Beatles.
“We don’t imitate or dress up like the Beatles. What we present is more of a celebration of the Beatles’ music. And singing with an orchestra is such a rush. I literally get goose-bumps from just the beauty and the power behind the orchestral sound. It’s so intense, it’s awesome, and Pierre Simard is so good as conductor. He’s so emotional on stage.”
Myself, I’ll always be a fan. It’s not just the music – it’s the memories and feelings that come flooding in.
Tickets $42-$84; $20/students. Please call 250-754-8550 or visit www.portheatre.com.