The genius of George Harrison at the Festival of Chichester

The All Things Must Pass Orchestra
The All Things Must Pass Orchestra

The music of George Harrison will be celebrated once again as one of the Festival of Chichester’s great success stories returns.

The All Things Must Pass Orchestra made its Festival of Chichester debut at the Pallant Suite four years ago; three years ago, they returned and doubled their audience; two years ago, they switched to the Regis Centre in Bognor where they doubled their audience again.

Last year, they couldn’t find a date at the Regis Centre; but this year they are back at the venue again, once again for the Festival of Chichester.

They will be offering the music of George Harrison live on Friday, June 28 at 8pm – a ten-piece band dedicated to the Quiet Beatle’s work.

George Harrison wrote some of The Beatles’ most beautiful songs (Something, Here Comes The Sun etc), but he continued to write great music during his solo career (My Sweet Lord etc) on 12 studio albums. The orchestra will offer classics from both his Beatles days and his post-Beatles days.

Guitarist/singer and band leader Alex Eberhard remembers fondly the sold-out night at the Regis Centre from two years ago.

“There is usually a warm feeling that goes across from the audience to the band and vice versa, but I have heard a few comments that people particularly noticed it that night, that they noticed that there was a real connection within the band, that everyone enjoys being with each other and playing the music.

“The music is of course great to play, but one of the things people have said is that there is a real chemistry within the band. We started about seven years ago, and there have been hardly any changes in personnel.

“As a band, we have got a bit of a following now and a bit of a reputation as a good live band for fans of George Harrison in this area and also around Henley (where the band plays annually in the town in which Harrison lived).”

Despite the success, the band won’t, however, be expanding the number of gigs. Alex is happy to keep it to a handful around June and July.

“And then that will be it for the rest of the year. It is a logistical thing. We are a big band and we have all got other projects and endeavours. For the time being, it is just nice to meet up after the winter and start rehearsing for the gigs in June and July.

“When we first started, I was naïve enough to think that it would be easy to get a lot of work, but there is such a lot of work in creating the work. Unless we can get a big promoter to take it on, I think it would be realistic just to stay as we are.”

The good thing is that it helps keep it all special: “When you are not doing so many gigs, perhaps people are prepared to travel.”

The band is certainly a long, long way from having exhausted all that George Harrison can offer them: “There is a lot more we could choose. This year we will have a few more songs from the Cloud 9 album.

“Some Place Else is a song that we haven’t done for a long time, and another we have never done is Devil’s Radio.

“I think it has even more relevance in its lyrics now than it did in the 80s when it was written. But also it is one of the more upbeat ones.

“A lot of the great George Harrison songs, like Isn’t It A Pity and Beware Of Darkness, are at a much slower pace. So it is good to have something different.”

Talking of something different, later in the festival, Alex will be offering Cellophane Flowers – The Beatles Revisited at the Pallant Suite, Chichester on Thursday, July 11 at 8pm when he will be joined by vocalists Lucy Pickering and Rachel Myer to explore the Lennon/McCartney catalogue’s vocal possibilities.

The Festival of Chichester box office is at the Novium, 01243 816525, http://www.thenovium.org/boxoffice.

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