Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra – All You Need Is Love

Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra – All You Need Is Love

Sunday night, out on the town, at Aotea Centre to see the one night only show All You Need Is Love.  Knowing this was going to be the closest I ever got to see any kind of Beatlemania, I have to say I wasn’t sure what to expect.


Dominic Harvey, the conductor for the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra, entered stage from my left to a round of applause and the evening got well underway as the Philharmonic begun with a medley of Beatles hits. The band came on stage while the chilling strings section flawlessly finished the last bars of Yesterday and Ciaran Gribbin started with Got To Get You Into My Life.

A second vocalist, Jackson Thomas, took to stage and commanded all attention as he delivered Eleanor Rigby while remaining in the centre of the stage before Ciaran came back out for I am the Walrus.  “Is there any Beatles fans in this house!?!”, Ciaran shouted from the stage to a small number of cheers from the crowd.

I’m sure they were still “warming up”.

With the Orchestra taking up the majority of the stage, I was never sure where the vocalists were going to appear from until they hit the spotlight. It was a very busy stage with the band consisting of Rob Wolf on piano/keys, Paul Batten on guitar, Rex Go on electric guitar/sitar, Tony Mitchell on bass guitar, Hamish Stewart on Drums & Glen Cunningham on Percussion all cramped into the front of the stage. 

Day After Day was performed by a fourth vocalist, Rai Thistlethwayte after Jack Jones finished Strawberry Fields.  Rai was indeed a stand out to me as I felt he took the whole experience to another level dressed all in black and rocking a haircut to rival them all. 

The addition of a solo by either a flute or piccolo during The Fool on the Hill was extra special for me.  For any that were unsure of the reason for having the Philharmonic Orchestra on the stage, the trumpet solo during Penny Lane, that incidentally gave me chills, would have shut down any doubters.

Hello, Goodbye with Jackson on lead vocals and the other three as back up got the audience to finally make some movements, warm up obviously taking effect now. Long & Winding Road where the strings section yet again took the item to an amazing crescendo. Quickly followed up by Good Morning & then Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band with all 4 vocalists on stage. A Little Help from My Friends and Golden Slumbers, where Jackson got his groove on, rounded out the first half and allowed many to stretch their legs.

As the Orchestra filtered back on stage, Dominic asked the crowd if we could all hear him. Once he received the affirmative, he advised, “they were allowed to enjoy themselves.” Definitely not one of the more involved crowds I have been apart of with the exception of a couple of lovely ladies down in the first few rows by the left side of the stage. 

Magical Mystery Tour and Norwegian Woods were how we got straight back into it all.

I have to admit at this point there weren’t a lot of songs that I personally knew but the delivery from all that were taking part on stage was full of emotion and well-executed. Also as it was my first time seeing the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra perform I didn’t know where to look at times. The synchronicity of the strings section was something I’d only ever seen on a TV and the sound was something that resonated through the room and me.

“What an amazing night to be in this beautiful room with such a beautiful crowd.” Ciaran flattered us.

Jack Jones had the epic task of delivering the well-known hit, Yesterday, but with only an electric guitar and the orchestra in support, it was as good as it could have been.  Oh, I can’t forget to mention the crowd offered up some supporting vocals of our own as well.  The funniest part of the evening came next with Jackson coming on stage and saying “Thanks Dad” The bemused silence made it clear not a lot of people understood so he went further to say, “Jacks son….. I’ve said that joke for the past 5 years and still get a laugh.”

We were treated to further hits like, Martha My Dear, Honey Pie and then Rai took to the ivories with Lady Madonna.  As if musically there wasn’t enough already, Jack Jones was introduced back onto stage by Glen telling everyone that Jones was one of Australia’s best guitarists. I admit I was a doubter at that point and, even though the first half of I Want You So Bad, however, at the pinnacle of the song, Jones stepped up and flawed me with one of the best performances I’ve seen on a guitar. 

Still delivering one liners – Ciaran came out and said, “I wanted to to do a banjo solo but they wouldn’t let me after that!”

Vocally, my highlight was Jackson’s rendition of Let It Be. Goosebumps and chills combined but topped off by his mean falsetto that he could hold like a pro.  Yellow Submarine had all four of them back out the front as well as the first chance the audience got to prove that they weren’t sleeping.  I loved the energy that came from the stage especially from Dominic! 

The amazing night was coming to an end when Rai started singing Time to Say Goodbye.  Ciaran told us all that this was their first time in New Zealand and thanked us all for having them. Glen ran us through the introductions of all on stage before the encore of All You Need is Love & Hey Jude. No one left in their seats as we got to rock out the rest of the evening and warm muscles that had been sitting still for too long.

The entire evening was from the producers of Rubber Soul Revolver, Beatles Back2Back & Beatles First 5. The songs last night were all perfectly chosen to represent the different sounds from the Beatles and incorporate the Orchestra to make it a magical evening.

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