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Beatlemania was back in Btown with the "Mersey Beatles"


The Mersey Beatles perform on Oct. 16 at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater. The Beatles tribute band performed the entire Abbey Road album live. Karen Cheng

Dressed exactly as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison once did, the Mersey Beatles, a tribute band, comes out onto the stage and immediately transports the Buskirk-Chumley Theater’s audience back to the 1960s. 

Beatlemania and the classic moptop hair, returned.

On the evening of Oct. 16, the auditorium of the BCT lit up with sing-alongs, dancing and laughter as the Beatles cover band, the Mersey Beatles, performed the entirety of the Beatles’ eleventh studio album, “Abbey Road,” as well as a set of the Beatles’ greatest hits.

Audience attendee and Bloomington resident Michael Esposito was excited.

“My favorite song from the Beatles is ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps,’” Esposito said before the show began. “It reminds me of my family growing up. It’s very nostalgic.”

The Mersey Beatles consists of Mark Bloor as Lennon, Steven Howard as McCartney, Craig McGown as Harrison, Brian Ambrose as Starr and Tony Cook to complete the line up with keyboards and percussion.

The musicians were dressed in classic “Abbey Road” cover attire with denim on denim for McGown, suit and tie for Howard and Ambrose and the iconic white suit for Bloor.

The cover band followed the footsteps of its inspiration as it began to perform in Liverpool’s The Cavern Club. The tribute band formed in 1999 inLiverpool, England,and have been continuing the legacy of the Beatles ever since.

John Lennon’s half-sister, Julia Baird, was scheduled to present as well as offer a book signing of her novel “Imagine This: Growing up with my brother John Lennon.” 

Baird opened the show with a presentation of her latest project: the reopening of “Strawberry Field Liverpool” where John Lennon played as a child and the inspiration for iconic song “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

The origin of “Strawberry Field Liverpool” returns to 1934 where the original Victorian house and Strawberry Field was gifted to the Salvation Army. From 1936 and on, it was a refuge for children as an education facility. 

Continuing to educate children, “Strawberry Field Liverpool” has reopened with care and support through a new training hub called the Steps to Work program. This program consists of a 12-18 month plan that offers children with disabilities opportunities to hone and build skills for the workforce. 

Possible sectors the children can work in range from “catering, retail, and assisting the Strawberry Field Exhibition, to customer service, hospitality and horticulture,” according to the official Strawberry Field website.

Baird used to promote the Mersey Beatles to America while also promoting Liverpool. Once she became the Honorary President of Strawberry Fields, she began to tour with the band again to promote the reopening of Strawberry Fields.

“I have nothing but admiration for what (the Salvation Army) is doing,” Baird said.

The band sang the songs of “Abbey Road” in order of the album, starting with “Come Together.” The audience was still warming up to the performance as some started to sway in their seats.

Once iconic songs “Here Comes the Sun” and “Because” played, the audience was embracing the performance with shouts of lyrics and laughter. Above them was a screen projecting the Beatles’ images of film from the fans in the 1960s, the streets of Liverpool and where the album was recorded — the “Abbey Road Studios.”

The auditorium was full of smiles and hollers like those of the Esposito family.

Five-year-old Sophie, daughter of Esposito, danced in the aisle,brightening the way with her light-up red and blue shoes.

“I’m excited to dance to the songs they’re going to sing!” Sophie said waiting for the performance to begin. She was not disappointed.

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