For Beatles fans, the 50th anniversary of the release of classic album Sgt Pepper means 2017 has been a big year which means it’s also been a big year for the greatest Fab Four tribute act in the world.
The Bootleg Beatles have been together now for nearly 40 years, which makes Steve White, who has been playing Paul McCartney on stage for a mere five years, a bit of a newcomer.
“Ha. It’s been an amazing five years. I’ve been a Beatles fan myself since I was nine-years-old. I remember going to see the Bootlegs when I was young, sitting there gobsmacked by how good they were.”
If the Bootleg Beatles set the gold standard for tribute bands, the talented Steve White does his damnest to maintain that reputation at all times, as fans in Harrogate will discover next week.
Despite hailing from Nottinghamshire originally, the 48-year-old Steve even sounds Liverpudlian on the phone.
“Ha. People in Liverpool are always asking me which part of the city I’m from.”
The success of the Bootlegs; they bring the best of the Beatles to every corner of the world bar America (“there’s so many Beatles acts across there, they have their own scene”, Steve explains) has always been down to the fact the recreate the Fab Four completely, not just the songs.
“Anyone can buy the suits and play the songs but in the Bootleg Beatles we focus on the things you can’t buy – the accents, the little nods of the head, the foot-tapping. We put over their characters.
“The music was always brilliant but The Beatles never took themselves seriously on stage and we like to get the audience singing along and having fun –as well as marvelling at the songs.”
Having talked to two John Lennons before, I was pleased to have finally talked to Paul McCartney, I tell him.
“I’d done a number of different Beatles shows over the years when I got a call from the Bootlegs saying their Paul McCartney was off ill and could I stand in for a night.
“It kept happening on and off and I kept on standing in until eventually they asked me to be Paul McCartney permanently.”
The only Beatles tribute act to tour with a live orchestra, Steve said the band would be playing a sizable chunk of Sgt Pepper in their Christmas show tour which hits Harrogate Theatre on Friday, December 8.
Steve said: “The Times gave us five stars for our Sgt Peppers shows earlier this year. We’ve had several months touring the album with the Liverpool Philharmonic. We pride ourselves in giving out best every single time.”
As professional and likable as thereal thing, ask the not real Paul which is his favourite Beatles album and he can’t say.
“I couldn’t say I like one period over the other. They’re all brilliant. Whether it’s With the Beatles or Abbey Road I just love it. An early track like Twist and Shout still makes nightclubs erupt when it’s played.”
Then he pauses and says: “I love Abbey Road most of all. It’s genius.”