Lennon at the Royal Court Liverpool (and purple vintage)

Yep, I’ve been up that Liverpool again (I bet you’re starting to recognise the urban hipness of the Ropewalks area in my photos, aren’t you?)

There were two reasons for our mini ‘Pool adventure (in addition to debuting that lush purple and white print dress, snagged from the Boo to a Goose open day last Sunday)….

The first and foremost was to see Lennon at the Royal Court Liverpool. It was the last day of a two week run and we went for matinee tickets so we could squeeze it into a day trip.

We’d seen posters for the show on our last visit and no way could we resist seeing Cast frontman (and über-scouser) John Power play the legendary Beatles frontman. He was everything we expected and more.

We were also dying to try out the Royal Court which offers cabaret style seating and dining in the stalls. Not since Vegas have I felt so relaxed, taking in a show with a pint on the table in front of me.

El was one of a handful of children at the show (there is strong language, but we’re not the kind of parents who worry about a few expletives on a Saturday afternoon and our Beatles-brainwashed kid wouldn’t have missed this for the world)

Power didn’t do a John Lennon impression – his own character-crammed accent and vocal tones are more than enough to bewitch and convince a crowd. And not forgetting that Power is a Liverpool musical legend in his own right.

He owned the stage (as the “older” John, he narrates and sings in the first half, and plays the sardonic singer fully in the second) bringing a weirdly contemporary Lennon to life with easy, cheeky charm and charisma and sarcasm and sharp wit and big, fat balls. Power isn’t an actor, but he wasn’t self conscious on stage and his experience as a performer totally worked with a cast of musicians and musical theatre talent that blew us away.

The mega-talented Tom Connor playing Paul McCartney was a revelation. We have seen many (seriously, tons) of Beatle tribute bands and impersonators over the years and Connor did the best Macca by a country mile. And the word “rousing” doesn’t do the sheer energy and rawness of the early Beatles songs performed (I Saw Her Standing There, Love Me Do, Please Please Me) justice: Mark Newnham captures Lennon’s youthful rebelliousness and bubbling rage to a tee, 18-year-old Matthew Breen is beautifully low key as George Harrison, and Ross Higginson does a steady turn as Ringo (with a hilarious twist in the tale).

And all this is not to say that the considerable talents of the multi-instrumentalist ensemble passed us by either. From “Cynthia’s” poignant performance of You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away, to the psychedelic Magical-Mystery-Tour-I-Am-the-Walrus sing-along medley, the versatility of the cast is veritable.

I could have listened to John Power singing Lennon’s solo back catalogue all night (Watching the Wheels moved me to tears), and the haunting harmony with Tom Connor when they sang I’ve Got a Feeling was spine-tingling.

I didn’t want the show to end. Tragically, we all know how it ends. But the post-Lennon message delivered in Yoko’s words (by Kirsten Foster) is one of peace and joyous celebration of the great man’s music.

It’s a musical experience any Beatles fan will adore, and if you’re wondering what it takes to get a hardcore, Liverpudlian crowd straight to their feet for a standing ovation, you’d better hope it comes back for seconds at the Royal Court – or goes on tour, as it richly deserves to do.

You may think that El over-dressed for the occasion, but he was aiming for a Doctor Who effect: we had time to head to Bold Street after the show where I bought a 1960s dress from Little Red Vintage, El bought yet another Doctor Who set and we all ate a delish dinner in the Soul Food cafe

And so to the second reason we were visiting our spiritual home. There’s a dream taking shape that involves buying our own Liverpool property: a little flat in our fave part of town.

I’ve fallen so deeply in love with the city that I desperately want to spend more time there, and maybe in a few years time, divide my time a bit more equally between here and there (and everywhere).

It’s a city I really believe in and want to invest in.

We’ll see how the next few weeks go, as we’re waiting for planning permission to come through on the changes we want to make to the new house, but I’m crossing everything that this is something we could possibly pull off.

But knowing that we can easily pop up to the ‘Pool and back in a day makes the prospect of renting the flat out initially, that much more attractive.

If we get a Liverpool base, imagine how many shoots I’ll be able to do on these amazing streets…

Written by Johanna Payton