The McCartney Years is as close as it gets to Beatlemania
As a kid growing up, Yuri Pool listened to the radio a lot. In doing so, he frequently heard music by The Beatles. Motivated by a desire to hear more, he went to his father who owned an extensive record collection.
“I asked one day, ‘Hey. Do you have any records of the band they call The Beatles?’” Pool said. “‘I have all the records,’ he told me. He actually taped them all onto little cassettes that I would play until they wore out. I had a little boom box I got for Christmas when I was very young and I literally played the tapes until they disintegrated.”
Pool grew to know every song, every lyric and every instrumental part. He had a piano in his home growing up, and then he got a guitar.
“I learned the instrumentation at a very young age,” he said. “From the time I played the cassettes day in and day out, it became ingrained in my memory and it’s still there. You know, all the drum parts, the piano parts, the bass parts, the vocals. Everything.”
Pool still draws off of that knowledge as he performs with the tribute band The McCartney Years, highlighting the work of Paul McCartney through the Beatlemania craze as well as his post-Beatles career as a solo artist and with Wings. The McCartney Years will perform Friday, Jan. 31, at 7 p.m. at The Maryland Theatre.
From London to London
Pool, who hails from the Netherlands but spent many years living in London, England, spoke with a What’s NXT reporter from his home in London, Ontario.
“It’s funny. I moved from London to London,” he said.
Pool had always been a big fan of McCartney’s work and considered Wings to be a great band. He was performing with an international Beatles tribute production in England when he began to think about branching out into a McCartney act.
“I wondered 13 years ago why nobody was doing that. I Googled a bit and discovered that no one else was, so I said, ‘OK, well, I guess I’m gonna be the guy doing this,’” he said. “I moved to Canada and started a year-round show to portray Paul’s career after The Beatles and during the Wings era when a lot of people considered him to be at the height of his career.”
The Beatles stopped touring in 1966 and fell apart in 1970, Pool said.
“Paul really wanted to go on the road and he’d been pushing the other guys to go. He started Wings as his escape to go back on the road and be Paul McCartney instead of Paul the Beatle,” he said.
The McCartney Years show is a concert experience representing those concert tours. Along with Pool as McCartney at lead vocals, bass, guitar and piano are David Usselman, Braden DeCooman, Dean McKey, Evan Berndt and Jennifer Pool.
“During the show, every musician portrays his or her character,” Pool said. “We dress like the band. We talk, naturally, obviously, my accent, my background, I talk like Paul, you know. But everybody works on replicating their character.”
A family unit
Pool’s onstage wife, Linda McCartney, also is his offstage wife, Jennifer Pool.
“She and Linda share the same birthday, September 24,” he said.
The two met years ago at a concert. Another artist who was portraying Linda McCartney at the time moved on to pursue a solo career.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do,” Pool said. “Jennifer said, ‘Well, why don’t I become Linda?’ I said, ‘But of course!’”
Just as McCartney wanted his wife to be an actively engaged part of his band, Pool said he enjoys being on the road and working with Jennifer.
“She had some musical background. It was fairly easy for her to pick up parts. We spent many a night going through vocal parts and harmonies to perfect it,” he said. “But you know, it’s a great opportunity we have to travel together.”
Also traveling with them is their young daughter, Finna.
“It’s a family unit on the tour bus,” Pool said. “Everybody sits there, plays games, plays music. Sometimes the guys grab a guitar and jam. Back on the bus, we are all a big family. We are living the dream, you know?”
Traveling through time and generations
Pool takes pride in the fact that Beatles promoter Sid Bernstein, who brought the original Beatles to North America, has commended The McCartney Years as the best tribute band on the scene today.
“He saw the show in 2007, I believe it was, and gave us an accolade. It was amazing to hear that from him, him having worked with The Beatles one on one,” Pool said.
Denny Laine of The Moody Blues and later of Paul McCartney and Wings from 1971 to 1981, also said he thinks The McCartney Years is “fantastic.”
In keeping with an ongoing commitment to an an accurate, period-true reproduction of McCartney’s concerts, The McCartney Years is working on a project with some of the original technical crew for Wings.
“These are guys who traveled with Paul concert to concert back in the 1970s. They built up the stage each day and tore it down at the end of the night. We are recreating the actual staging that Wings toured with back in the 1970s,” he said. “We are hoping to finish the project this summer.”
The playlist for The McCartney Years is a mixture of Beatles songs such as “Let It Be” and “Lady Madonna” along with McCartney’s post-Beatles hits including “Live and Let Die,” “Band on the Run,” “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “Silly Love Song.”
“Obviously, we can’t go onstage and not play any Beatles’ songs. All the songs will be within the spirit of the ‘70s tours,” Pool said.
Audiences are diverse, comprised of young children as well as people who attended McCartney’s concerts decades ago.
“It’s just another sign that this music is timeless,” he said. “It’s great to be passing on the music and the history, to see it still traveling through time and generations.”
Top photo: Yuri Pool and Jennifer Pool portray Paul McCartney and Linda McCartney with The McCartney Years. (Submitted photo)