Living the life of Lennon

HANNAH FLEMING
Last updated 07:42 13/11/2012
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Beatlemania are playing at the Showplace on November 22

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Clark Gilmour's life has been one big Beatles trip which all started when he was three years old.

Having a huge Beatles fan as a father tuned his ear to the Fab Four's sound early on, and no sound has been able to out-do them since.

"The Beatles have been my favourite band for as long as I can remember.

"No one comes close for me."

Gilmour is one of four men touring New Zealand with Beatlemania on Tour - The Beatles Experience.

He plays the role of John Lennon, which he admits he fell into by default.

"I sort of thought well, I can't play the drums, I can't play left- handed bass, I can't sing nearly as high as Paul McCartney, and I can't play guitar anywhere near as good as George Harrison.

"So, I became John Lennon."

The role suited him anyway, said Gilmour, as he had been singing and playing rhythm guitar in other bands.

"I had to learn a bit of harmonica and keyboards, which at times has been quite testing, but it's all part of the fun I suppose."

Speaking to the Taranaki Daily News from a Nelson music shop, where he was picking up some supplies, Gilmour said the best part about being in Beatlemania was the instruments.

"My personal favourite thing is getting to own all the instruments that John Lennon played. At home I've got about nine John Lennon guitars," he said.

"The other thing I like is that you're always finding something new out about your favourite music. Discovering new things about your favourite subject is one of the best things ever.

"And getting paid and travelling the world isn't bad either - it's one of the best jobs ever."

All four of the band members are lads from Britain, where the group has been performing as Them Beatles for the past four years.

Gilmour said he played his own music throughout his late teens and early 20s, but got to the point where that did not appeal to him any more.

"The struggle of trying to put your own music to people wasn't fun, so I thought well maybe now would be a good time to do the Beatles thing because it was something I'd always wanted to do."

The band's main objective is to take their audience on a musical bibliography that is as accurate as possible.

"We do try and encapsulate the roles and represent them as well as we can, to be as close to the original. You're basically going to get the experience as if you were going to see the Beatles - that's the focus," Gilmour said.

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The man who majored in theology and religious studies at university said the show started right at the beginning of their first gig, and journeyed through to their last show on the roof of London's Apple building.

"The show starts in Hamburg when they were a cover band playing rock 'n' roll standards, trying to stay awake through pills and booze, and then it goes back to Liverpool when they started becoming the biggest band in the UK."

Gilmour said his favourite Beatles era had to be the early stuff when they were "raw, passionate and conquering the world".

"When you you hear the opening to I Wanna Hold Your Hand it just captures that whole Beatlemania thing - with the yeah yeah yeahs and the woo woos and the head shaking.

"That's a really iconic period and the albums from that period are great, from start to finish, it's just hit after hit. They were just incredibly unique, talented songwriters honing their craft."

Gilmore says his favourite song to play - at the moment - is The Long and Winding Road.

"It's a rare opportunity when John gets to play the bass . . . it's a bit of a contentious bass line because some people think that John Lennon was deliberately trying to sabotage the song with his whacky bass line."

If he wasn't busy touring the world in John Lennon's shoes, Gilmour said he assumed he would probably be paralleling Lennon's life by shouting controversial religious beliefs from the rooftops.

"Telling people the Beatles are bigger than Jesus, probably," he said.

None of the four have ever been to New Zealand, and Gilmour said it was an experience they all highly anticipated.

"The journey from Auckland to Nelson was quite cool, a lot of nice scenery, we saw some llamas.

"So hopefully throughout the rest of our journey we'll see some more - scenery that is, not llamas - although they are lovely animals."

- Taranaki Daily News

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