Gordan Vukovic/Cashman Photography
Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014 | 10 p.m.
The story is familiar to fans of The Beatles. When George Martin was creating the circus atmosphere for “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” he dug up a long stretch of recorded steam organ music.
Seeking a random procession of organ music to sound like what you would hear as circus performers juggle, tumble and stand atop trotting horses, he instructed a technician to cut the tape in small segments. Just a few inches long. Martin told him to fling those pieces airborne, then reattach them with Scotch tape.
That randomly dissected and reconnected music plays under “Mr. Kite” on the “Sgt. Pepper Lonely Hearts Club Band” album and in the stage show “Love” at the Mirage.
Today, Martin’s son Giles is mastering the master recordings of The Beatles. And he’s performing his own version of cutting, flinging and reconnecting.
“I spent two years of my life chopping up Beatles music to create a show with no live music,” Giles says as he sits in a desk chair in the sound room at Love Theater. “I go from that to spending three weeks putting it back together again to make sure people are playing the right parts.”
The artists recruited for the project are saying we can work it out (ha) as Martin is joining creative forces at the upcoming Life Is Beautiful festival with the Las Vegas Philharmonic and Cirque du Soleil dancers in the “Love” production. On Sunday, Oct. 26, at 3:30 p.m., expect a unique, first-of-its kind collaboration of those cultural institutions.
The L.V. Phil, under the direction of “Ka” music director Richard Oberacker (who is one hot commodity right now, in Las Vegas and New York, for his terrific musical “Bandstand”), is playing a Beatles medley assembled by Martin and boosted by dance numbers by Cirque artists.
The set will last about 40 to 45 minutes, with a 20-minute segment of music followed by a full-scale Cirque production number powered by the full orchestra.
“The idea was presented, and of course we leapt at the chance, although it’s a double-edged sword,” Martin says. “The cast does two shows a night and works their asses off doing this thing, which is getting into a different realm, but that’s how Cirque artists are. We’re all like that, really. We all like new ways of expression, artistically and musically.”
The idea of bringing the L.V. Phil to Life Is Beautiful was appealing to the symphony’s CEO, Jeri Crawford, who last year, after the first LIB festival, approached founder Rehan Choudhry and said, “I’d like to do a rave with the Phil.”
Wouldn’t we all?
Choudhry took that idea back to his team, and one of the LIB officials, Craig Nyman, thought to bring the Cirque and the L.V. Phil together — connected by the Scotch tape of Beatles music.
What we will see is something of a question, still, though the VW Beetle that flies apart during the show will be used. There shall be spandex and bungee, of course, because it is Cirque. Martin also says the crowd will see The Beatles play a “live” version of “Get Back” atop the Apple Studios rooftop, again with the Phil adding orchestral accompaniment.
Like the Cirque artist in the “Mr. Kite” scene clinging to the trapeze, Martin has a firm grip on what songs will be used.
“We’ll have ‘Yesterday,’ ‘All You Need Is Love,’ ‘Get Back,’ going into ‘Glass Onion’ to ‘Eleanor Rigby’ to ‘Here Comes the Sun,’ ” says Martin, who fused the long mashup that is the show’s soundscape and also the accompanying “Love” CD. “To dig out my dad’s old scores, for the orchestra, has been a lot of fun. It’s funny, hearing the string arrangement for ‘Yesterday,’ which they’re playing, with Paul’s guitar and vocal, live onstage. It’s a great blend.”
“In a way, it’d be a great thing to have in this theater, bring the orchestra in.”
It’d be great for a show with an unlimited budget and theater space, sure. But even Cirque and the Mirage have restrictions.
Martin says he is still impressed by The Beatles’ power to generate fan response 50 years after the band hit America.
“I work for a company that streams music, so you are now in a situation where you don’t even choose a CD, you choose a track, or you choose an album and it comes straight into your home,” Martin says. “So music has become ageless, if that makes sense. If you listen to ‘Born to Run’ by Bruce Springsteen or Radiohead’s ‘Kid A’ or Coldplay’s ‘Parachutes’ or The Beatles ‘Sgt. Pepper,’ they all seem to be coming from the same time and place.
“So, music has become timeless, and The Beatles music holds up. It holds up against everyone.”
Martin says he has noticed, for years, how young people who have never been introduced to The Beatles find familiarity with the band’s music.
“Especially McCartney’s songs, they appeal to kids, like ‘Yellow Submarine,’ ” he says. “They feel they knew these songs that they never have heard. It’s a weird thing, like dark forces at work.”
Martin, who turns 45 this month, has his own children. Are they Beatlemaniacs?
“I don’t expose them to The Beatles music, no,” Martin says, laughing. “That’s the last thing they need, right? Look what happened to me.”
Ah, but there are worse fates. The dozens of musicians and artists bringing some extra “Love,” and love, to downtown Las Vegas will tell you that.