There's nothing you can do that can't be done
Nothing you can sing that can't be sung
Nothing you can say but you can learn how to play the game
Nothing you can make that can't be made
No one you can save that can't be saved
Nothing you can do but you can learn how to be you in time
All you need is love
All you need is love
All you need is love, love
Love is all you need.
--"All You Need Is Love," The Beatles
Most people float down the rivers of time without leaving a ripple. Some stir the waters and leave somewhat of an impact. And then there are those who carve out their own islands in time and form a permanent place in eternity. Such were the Beatles.
Who could have imagined that four boys -- one of them a teenager at the time -- from a seaport village would take the world by storm and eventually become one of the biggest forces in music history, comparable to the likes of Mozart or Beethoven?
It was just over 50 years ago, in February 1964, that the Beatles landed in America to the delight of throngs of screaming fans. Two nights later, their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show drew a television viewing audience of 73 million. For that brief moment in time, the streets emptied and crime stopped.
John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and George Harrison would go on to sell some 600 million albums worldwide as a band. What was thought to be a mere generational blip has now become a trans-generational cultural mainstay. Despite the band's breakup in 1970, their influence remains undimmed. Even today, with Lennon and Harrison dead, the two remaining members of the band, McCartney and Starr, still continue to sell out concert venues.
Indeed, more than a half century later, the world not only celebrates the 1960s as seen through the love of the music of the Beatles but each generation seems to fall in love with the Beatles all over again. They have become a cross-generational phenomenon. As Nicholas Schaffner observes in his book The Beatles Forever, "The Beatles will be remembered not only for their considerable contribution as songwriters and recording artists, but also as the most remarkable cultural and sociological phenomenon of their time. During the 1960s they seemed to transform, however unwittingly, the look, sound, and style of at least one generation... more than anyone else [it was] John, Paul, George and Ringo who set in motion the forces that made a whole era what it was, and, by extension, what it is today."
More than musicians, the Beatles were cultural innovators who chanted a mantra of peace, love and harmony. As such, they helped move a generation embedded in war and strife toward peace. All of this is captured in Cirque du Soleil's aptly named LOVE show, which will celebrate its ten-year run at the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas in 2016.
Born out of a personal friendship and mutual admiration between the late George Harrison and Cirque du Soleil founder Guy Laliberté, who perfected the art of the "contemporary" circus, LOVE artfully and enchantingly combines the Beatles' poetic utterances and inventive music with syncopated aerial performances, highly choreographed dance numbers and acrobatic daring. Director Dominic Champagne manages in a 1 hour 40 minute show to tell the story of a generation who dared to speak truth to power and provide the answer to war and violence.
There are places I remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain...
I know I'll often stop and think about them
In my life I love you more.--"In My Life," The Beatles
Beginning with the war-torn years that coalesced into the brutality of World War II and the ending (or beginning) of the Beatles' career, LOVE examines the music and times of the Beatles through a rainbow-hued prism of dance and theatrics. The show plays at a specially built theater equipped with 6,341 audio speakers and 2,013 seats set around a central stage. The masterfully produced music -- re-orchestrated by the Beatles' producer George Martin and his son Giles -- surrounds your ears like the cascading sounds of a million ocean winds. The overall sound at times is mesmerizing.
The LOVE theater itself boasts 360 degree seating around the stage, which begs for audience participation, and 24 digital projectors that are used throughout the show. Everything is digital with a large high-definition screen that provides panoramic images. LOVE samples 120 Beatle songs to create 27 musical pieces, including a masterful version of George Harrison's "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," set to a string arrangement by George Martin, all accompanied by an elaborate choreography of acrobatics, aerial performances, free-style dance and extreme sports. Rope contortions, bungees, trampolines, latex ropes, skaters, and free running provide a dazzling array of acrobatics.
Because the world is round it turns me on
Because the world is round...aaaaaahhhhhh...
Love is all, love is new
Love is all, love is you. -- "Because," The Beatles
Even before the show begins, the audience is reeled in by characters from the show who weave among the seats, hinting at what is to come with slapstick gestures and mime routines. One character, Dr. Robert, pours steam from a teakettle onto the heads of audience members. By the time the a capella strains of "Because" fill the hall, everyone is ready for a good time, and the cast of characters pulled from Beatle songs who populate LOVE does not disappoint.
You certainly do not need to like the Beatles or their music to enjoy this show, nor do you need to be well-versed in Beatle-ology, but for those who do, it's like a reunion of old friends: Dr. Robert with his mind-bending tea, Sgt. Pepper of the Lonely Hearts Band, Eleanor Rigby who "keeps her face in a jar by the door", Father McKenzie ("no one was saved"), Julia (John Lennon's mother), Lady Madonna the embodiment of motherhood, Mr. Piggy the traditionalist, Her Majesty the Queen, the Walrus and the Eggmen ("coo coo ca job"), the Nowhere Men, and a cast of 60 performers all lend a hand in guiding us through the psychedelic journey of four young men from Liverpool.
That journey spirals into a tranquil moment of enlightenment for the audience and a newfound state of cosmic consciousness for the Beatles with LOVE's rendition of "Here Comes the Sun." Embodying the spiritual journey of the Beatles, Krishna emerges center stage circled above by four aerial artists, providing the link between east and west as portrayed in divine love and opening minds to new sounds, new cultures and new tastes. Yes, we are all one as Lennon tells us in "I Am the Walrus."
You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out.--"Revolution," The Beatles
From the first pounding, screaming chords of "Revolution" that call for peaceful upheaval while telling us to "free our minds," to Harrison's weeping guitars and Lennon's powerful call to brotherhood in "All You Need Is Love" -- all the while accompanied by evocative sets, aerial artists and dance steps that would rival any dance steps of Fred Astaire -- the answer to violence, chaos and war in the world is there for all to grasp: love, peace and harmony. As Lennon says, "There is nothing you can do that can't be done."
The message of the Beatles' legacy as captured in this Cirque du Soleil show is clear: it is love. What a world it could be if only we would listen and put the message into practice.