Saturday, April 22, 2006

Anu refuses to let it be where Fabs are concerned

Two things happened in 1970 on opposite sides of the globe: the Beatles broke up, and, on an island off Queensland, Christine Anu was born. Thirty-six years later, the little girl who grew up singing Beatles songs, is part of a concert tour called Let It Be, which showcases the songs of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. And Anu couldn't be more excited. "I'm part of a show honouring the greatest songwriting duo of our time," she said in Melbourne this week.The tour, which goes to Victoria, Tasmania, Queensland, Western Australia and NSW, for two weeks in May, also features singers Leo Sayer, John Waters and Rick Price. It has a nine-piece band, including horns and strings.Anu's eyes light up in relating the prospect of performing the Lennon-McCartney catalogue and singing with her colleagues and "their extraordinary voices". Waters is intimately familiar with Lennon's works, having put on shows exclusively of his songs. "To me, John Waters is John Lennon," Anu says.But to Anu growing up, they were just a band that was non-existent - "a band from the olden days". She used to sing Beatles songs, such as Yellow Submarine, at school and remembers being at parties where singalongs would include the Fab Four's material. "I grew up with footage of them," she says. "I just thought they were not individuals - they all had the same haircut and I just thought, 'Who wants to go round sporting the same haircut and looking like each other', but then you realise they were the first band to write songs for themselves. They made bands writing their own material a hip thing."Anu mentions two songs she will sing that have a special resonance to her: Blackbird and Yesterday. "Blackbird is probably the first song that ever really meant something to me," she says. "I lost a friend who was killed in a hit-and-run in Hawaii - he was part of an Aboriginal surf team - and at the time this song was going around and it reminds me of him and I used to sing the song around about the time that we took him back to Inverell to bury him. I've thrown it into my set occasionally, and it's just wonderful to be able to sing it again in Let It Be."As for Yesterday, Anu says: "I remember singing it when I was five. It's just a simple song, and any flaw will be able to be heard. It's such a beautiful song and I want to stay true to it. I don't want to stuff it up." It is the the group's genius for melody that Anu credits with informing her attraction to a song. "I think it's because of the Beatles songs and their melodies that it's the main reason I get hooked on to a song - a lot of Beatles songs were melody-driven."This feeling goes to the reason why the group is never out of favour and is enjoying a revival. A stage show in Las Vegas is being planned with the blessing of McCartney and Ringo Starr. The music will be overseen by "the fifth Beatle", Sir George Martin. To Anu, "Beatles songs have been around us forever and always will be." It also means a little extra to her. "I'm just looking forward to my children (Kuiam and Zipporah) experiencing the Beatles like I've never experienced, and bring that whole circle around again."Back to a childhood in Queensland, when a little girl thought a band from the olden days sounded fab.Let It Be will be performed at Hamer Hall, Melbourne, on Tuesday, May 23.


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