Published June 7, 2019


MELROSE — Having been some months in preparation, a pleasant time was guaranteed for all at last Saturday night’s Polymnia Choral Society concert featuring songs from the Beatle’s “Revolver” album. And for those who attended in Memorial Hall, it was more fun than a ride on a yellow submarine.

The headlining special guest performer was Jimmy Pou, one of the foremost George Harrison tribute artists anywhere. Pou not only bears an uncanny resemblance to the Beatles’ lead guitarist, his vocals, guitar-playing and on-stage physical mannerisms form a pitch perfect impression of Harrison.

Pou has been performing as Harrison since 1978, when he joined the successful “Beatlemania” show world tour. He subsequently toured with the #1 Beatles tribute band, “1964, the Tribute,” performing in such prestigious venues as Carnegie Hall and the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado.

He has also toured the world with the successful Broadway show, “Rain – a Tribute to the Beatles.” It was on this tour’s Boston stop that Polymnia Choral Society president Steve Francis saw Pou on stage. Francis was so impressed that when Polymnia decided to perform Revolver, Francis decided to contact Pou on a whim, to see if he’d like to be involved. To his surprise, the Los Angeles-based performer agreed.

JIMMY POU, a George Harrison tribute artist, and Julia Kiggins, Polymnia’s 2019 Spotlight on High School Talent winner, perform the Beatles’ “Yesterday.” (Mark Sardella Photo)

Pou, Polymnia Music Director Murray Kidd , and Francis worked together transcontinentally for a year to put the show together.

That preparation paid off at Saturday night’s concert.

Between Pou’s lead vocals and guitar and the chorus’s backup and harmonies, the arrangements and interpretations were true enough to the original versions that there was never a jarring effect on the audience. There was even the brass horn section for “All You Need is Love,” and “Got to Get You Into My Life” and a tabla player for Harrison’s eastern influenced, spiritual tunes like “Love to You.”

Many members of the chorus appeared in full Sixties regalia, sporting tie-dyed attire, Nehru jackets, hippie headbands and granny sunglasses.

Under the direction of conductor Murray Kidd, the concert was performed in three sets with the bulk of the songs from “Revolver.” Beatles songs and George Harrison solo tunes from other albums filled out the rest of the program.

The first set opened with the Beatles’ “All You Need is Love” before moving into the Harrison solo tune “My Sweet Lord.” Pou displayed his guitar virtuosity on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” (How many people know that on the White Album recording of the song, it’s actually Eric Clapton playing lead guitar?)

The first set closed with Polymnia’s 2019 Spotlight on High School Talent winner, colatura soprano Julia Kiggins performing stirring rendition of Paul McCartney’s, “Yesterday.” Julia graduated from Melrose High School the day before the concert. She will attend Vassar College in the fall, where she intends to study psychology and sing with one of the school’s many a cappella groups.

The middle set opened with George Harrison’s “Taxman” from Revolver, reminding us that as far back as the Sixties, even counterculture heroes like the Beatles saw the folly of government “tax the rich” schemes.

The set also included Pou performing Harrison’s “Love to You,” and featured Keshav Desibhatia playing the tabla in a manner so precise as to be indistinguishable from the album version.

Joking that he was “the world’s tallest Paul McCartney,” Melrose tenor Brad Michaels joined Pou in front of the chorus to perform “Here, There and Everywhere,” a song he dedicated to his wife and fellow Polymnia member, Clare Gibson. The set then moved into a raucous “Yellow Submarine” before closing with the psychedelic “She said, She Said.”

Polymnia’s assistant director and Wakefield resident Katrina Faulstich’s alto vocals were featured on the joyful “Good Day Sunshine,” to open the third set, followed by tenor Michael Margolis of Melrose performing solo vocals on “And Your Bird Can Sing.”

Melrose alto Liz Donaldson was the featured soloist on the plaintive, “For No One.” Next was “Doctor Robert,” followed by Pou featured on the Harrison number, “I Want to Tell You.”

Polymnia tenor Clare Gibson got a solo turn on “Got to Get You Into My Life,” and the trio of Elizabeth Moroney, Patti Bertiaume and Jackie Murphy performed “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

“Twist and Shout” got audience members of all ages out of their seats and dancing. With “Let It Be,” the hall was dotted with the lights of waving cell phones. The concert closed with Steve Francis leading a sing-along version of “Hey Jude.”

The Polymnia Choral Society is composed of people who love to sing and to share their music with others. That was never more evident than on Saturday night.

Founded in Wakefield in 1953 and based in Melrose since 1956, the group serves the cultural and educational interests of a number of communities north of Boston by presenting concerts ranging from sacred hymns and classical music to popular show tunes.

The chorus includes more than 60 voices, with most of the singers coming from Melrose, Malden, Wakefield, Stoneham and Saugus; some members come from as far away as Concord, Westborough, Marblehead and Topsfield.

Polymnia Choral Society is a non-profit organization, supported in part by grants and donations. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

Polymnia welcomes anyone who enjoys singing to come to a rehearsal and join the chorus!

Rehearsals take place on Tuesday evenings, 7-9 p.m. at the Melrose Highlands Church at 355 Franklin St., Melrose.