REVIEW: Let It Be, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, until Saturday, May 17.

The icing on the cake was the fact that The Beatles themselves had played this very stage three times half a century ago.

But what a cake it was – a fabulous two and a half hours of Beatles music performed by musicians who put the tribute back in tribute band.

For those of us who have spent our lives wishing we had seen the real thing, this is surely as close as we are ever going to get, near perfection in the delivery of the world’s most perfect back catalogue.

Sticking reasonably close to chronology, the band gave a terrific sense of changing times and also of The Beatles’ astonishing pace and innovation, each new year bringing the most remarkable leaps forward in style and sophistication.

Eleanor Rigby delivered in Sgt Pepper gear was a little odd, but comfortably forgiven when you consider that the majority of the songs in the second half were songs The Beatles themselves never did live.

There was never any sense of sending The Beatles up. Instead, all those instantly-recognisable Beatles mannerisms were delivered with respect by a band – and this was what really clinched the night – who so obviously absolutely loved what they were doing.

Every song was a highlight, but While My Guitar Gentle weeps simply soared – a magnificent performance.

James Fox is Paul; Reuven Gershon is John; John Brosnan is George; Ben Cullingworth is Ringo; and delivering absolutely everything else on keyboard was Graham Harvey: a formidable combination which certainly did the fab four justice.

And how wonderful to see those video clips when the band hurried off to add a year or two to their age. Usually that kind of thing is pure padding, but those 60s ads were a delight.

The chap who determinedly tips ketchup and oil and his shoes before breaking eggs on them, just to show what wonderful quality they are, was a hoot – beaten a moment later by the bride who lights up a fag at the altar, just to show wonderful Captstan ciggies are.

A great night all round.

Phil Hewitt