Strawberry Fields Forever

By Nikhil Raghavan

The long and winding road. If music is considered as a universal language, the songs, the life and the times of The Beatles transcend and cut across decades, generations and continents. That, the power of their music, movies, lifestyles and beliefs have influenced not just the folks of their generation, but even the NewGen of this era, was quite evident in the Cavern Quarter, Liverpool where the historic landmark Cavern Club is located underground of Mathew Street.

Come together. During my 2-day sojourn in Liverpool, paying obeisance to the mentors of my teenage years, The Beatles, I found the Cavern Quarter, Mathew Street and the immediate neighbourhood crammed with the youth of today, tourists and students of the University of Liverpool, cheek by jowl with the hardcore Beatles fans from several parts of the globe.

With a little help from my friends. The original Cavern Club went through a few transformations during the war – part demolition, part suspension of operations and part closure – before it shifted a bit, but the original nightclub was left untouched till it was resurrected and rebuilt to a very close resemblance of the original, where The Beatles first started their musical journey.

Twist and shout. It has retained the arched, brickwork ceiling, arched doorways and stage, with the walls adorned with memorabilia, souvenirs and trivia about The Beatles. The stage comes alive with a string of performers who predominantly sing The Beatles songs as well as a few others from that era of Rock & Roll. Outside, across the doorway are the Cavern Pub and Festival Food & Drink and many others named after their song titles.

Here comes the sun. On the sea front, at the Albert Docks are two more places of interest. The larger-than-life bronze statues of The Beatles created by sculptor Andy Edwards and unveiled in 2015 on Liverpool’s Pier Head and in front of the Canard Building. This is a favourite selfie spot – you can stand with the statues and imagine yourself as the fifth one.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band. The Beatles Story is a well-conceived multimedia exploration through basement tunnels, lined on both sides with historical facts, photos, original musical instruments and videos, highlighting the career graph of the group. Headphones connected to a handheld device helps you to select the portions of the tour; so, as you walk past historical moments or career highlights, you will hear relevant interviews, narrations, etc. These will help you soak in The Beatles experience of a bygone era of Rock & Roll music and mass hysteria that made the band a worldwide phenomenon. It features a 2014 signature version of Donovan’s Gibson 1965 J-45 acoustic guitar, along with an autographed label and personal letter from the singer-songwriter.

Across the universe. The tour includes a section dedicated The Beatles 50th anniversary of visiting India, staying at Rishikesh and being influenced by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi as well as by the eclectic music of Pandit Ravi Shankar. A sitar used by Ravi Shankar is on display, loaned to The Beatles Story by the Ravi Shankar Foundation; he referred to this instrument as ‘Shyama’. As George Harrison’s mentor, Ravi’s influence on the Beatle ultimately helped to popularise the use of Indian instruments in 1960s pop music. Ravi used this particular Rikhi Ram sitar mainly for practice and composition work, it was the twin to ‘Black Beauty’ and is taken directly from his personal regular stable of sitars.

Liverpool and its neighbourhood live up to its name of being the hometown of The Beatles. Every nook and corner has something to do with the band – cafes, reclining statue on a street corner, flags and flyers – you name it, it’s all there. It helps you to recreate in your mind, the fabulous music of the Fab Four. Let it be.

 

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