Lương Đức Quang (centre) sings at Tranquil Books & Coffee. — VNS Photo Paul Kennedy
By Paul Kennedy
HÀ NỘI — On October 5th, 1962, a new boyband from Liverpool in the United Kingdom released their first song.
It was called Love me do and it peaked in the UK charts at number 17, a moderate success. Their second song, Please, please me, did a little better and the rest, as they say, is history.
The group was The Beatles, who went on to become the biggest band in the world. The Fab Four as they were affectionately known changed popular music forever.
Fifty seven years later and more than 9,000 kilometres away from the city of Liverpool, the music of The Beatles is as popular now at Tranquil Books & Coffee in Việt Nam’s capital city as it was in the Cavern Club, the venue The Beatles regularly played in the northwest of England back in the early sixties.
Here a new generation of Fab Four fans sing along to the tunes made famous when their grandparents were around their age.
They may be slightly less raucous than fans of the past, but their love and knowledge of the group is on a par with all who have followed before them.
“When listening to The Beatles, I can feel the lyrics, the melodies and the combination of John Lennon and Paul McCartney who created hits which are still popular now,” said 20-year-old student Lương Đức Quang.
“The composing styles of Lennon and McCartney are genius. With John Lennon, we can feel the music was more about his life and he brought it into the song when writing the lyrics.
“As for McCartney, while listening to his music, listeners can feel a part of themselves in it. These values have never changed, especially when it comes from heart. So I think, when the two styles get together, with Ringo's drumming, and George Harrison's guitar solos, it all comes together to create immortal hits.”
Trịnh Linh Chi, 33, of The Beatles Việt Nam – Official Fan Club added: “In my fan club there are many people from previous generations who are in their 40s and 50s and youngsters who are born after 2000.
“Anyone can find something they can relate to in The Beatles' music, and whenever having a certain emotion, mood or story, everyone can certainly find parts of themselves in The Beatles' musical treasures because this band has so many amazing songs.
“The Beatles’ music, I think, is very suitable for the tastes of many ages; the more you hear, the better it gets. So I am very happy because until now, The Beatles music in Việt Nam has still been loved by many people and especially by those who are very young.”
Last week the songs were sung with even more passion and effort than normal as auditions were held to create a Vietnamese tribute band.
They need Johns, Pauls, Georges and of course, Ringos. And there was no shortage of takers packed into the tiny venue ready to try out.
Classic songs were belted out with gusto. Michelle, Ticket to Ride and Hey Jude to name just a few.
Hoang Nguyet Cam may only be 18 years old, but she’s already a dab hand on the piano playing Beatles songs.
Cam said: “I’ve been a fan of The Beatles for a long time, since I was in the seventh or eighth grade.
“Back then there was a friend of mine who used to play and share Beatles songs. I clicked on those songs and the first song I listened to was And I love her and since then I started to like this band.
“Among The Beatles albums, I like Rubber Soul the most, and I performed two songs from that album on the piano.”
The idea is to bring together Việt Nam’s very own Fab Four to play a small number of gigs in the coming months.
And there’s little doubt the fan base exists to ensure a warm welcome whenever they appear on stage.
“I have been one of the core members of the club since the first performances,” Chi added.
“Currently, I’m one of the main singers of the band. The Beatles Việt Nam – Official Fan Club has been in operation since the end of 2015, up to now it has been nearly four years.
“The number of our members is also the number of fans on our Facebook page. If I'm not mistaken, that number has just passed 4000.”
It may be almost six decades since Love Me Do was first released, but Beatles’ fans in Hà Nội, are loving them even more today.
Beatles songs, Vietnamese style:
I wanna hold your Hanoi
When I’m sixty pho
The long bien winding road
Love (banh) mi do
O ba dinh ob la da
Lucy in the sky with Saigons
Truc bach in the USSR
Here comes the bun
With love from me to yeu
A tay in the life
Anh I love her
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club banh