ARC’s Darren Middleton On Touring “Let It Be”
Following two sold-out tours of The Beatles’ Abbey Road live in 2019/20, Australian Rock Collective is returning in 2021 to present the final Beatles album in all its glory – Let It Be. ARC, Australian Rock Collective, comprised of Kram (Spiderbait), Darren Middleton (Powderfinger), Mark Wilson (Jet) and Davey Lane (You Am I) are self-confessed Beatles tragics. As they did with Abbey Road Live, the band will once again walk the tightrope to faithfully and lovingly bring another brilliant Beatles creation to life on stage – Let It Be from start to finish – followed by a second set playing a selection of favourites spanning the breadth of The Beatles’ catalogue. Darren Middleton talks to Hi Fi Way about the tour.
It must be exciting to be getting back out on the road with the Let It Be tour?
Yeah, it is, everyway I look at this I get pretty excited to be getting back with friends with what we love to do. We’re going to present Let It Be after we did Abbey Road in 2019. I just can’t wait to play live music again in front of people.
Does the changing nature of all these restrictions worry you or do you just plough on?
Things do seem to shift at the drop of a hat and all any of us can do is just make plans to move forwards and deal with whatever we have to at the time. We’re all looking towards putting the show together and fingers crossed it rolls out how we hope it rolls out.
Did you learn a lot about yourself doing the Abbey Road tour, how much fun it was and being stretched from what you normally do?
Definitely stretched, it was an incredible amount of fan. With a band like the Beatles, it is one thing knowing the songs and being able to sing a long in the car but when you have to dig in and actually play it I think it’s a lot trickier than you think. They disguise these incredibly catchy beautiful songs in this shroud of simplicity but they are not that simple. They are very clever in the way they happen to do things even if they just bat out three gems a day of songs. They are an incredible band and I certainly learnt about my skills that were lacking when I approached Abbey Road.
Are there a few songs on Let it Be that are ambitious and will take a bit to learn to nail them?
I think with Let It Be it’s more the step back to gritty rock ‘n roll, there’s definitely some beautiful orchestrated moments. Abbey Road was a lot more variance in that, it is a real studio album and there’s layers and layers of harmonies and tricky stuff, a little bit psychedelic, this is a bit simpler in a sense so it is a fairly natural step for myself, Kram, Davey and Mark to do give it what it needs as a band. This is our approach whenever we do this sort of thing is not to stand behind Perspex and gently recreate the album. We want to play it like a band should play it. We’re not The Beatles, we’re not a tribute and adopt personalities of The Beatles but we try to give it a good kick in the arse, it is going to be good.
After Abbey Road was there much discussion about what album you might do next? Was it at that point the band decided to do Let It Be?
We had planned to do Let It Be and we’ve got something else that’s not Beatles that we’ll talk about for next year. We started as a band six years ago, about three years ago we thought let’s start doing something like ARC Presents and start playing some of these records that all are about to turn fifty that we love that had such a big impact on our own musical lives and lives in general. We laid plans for a few things coming up.
Did Sgt. Peppers come up? That’s one of those album screaming to be done…
That has been put on the table and we’re not crossing that bridge just yet, I think we got to the end of Abbey Road and it was pretty tricky to perform. It was a mind fuck excuse my French but we had to concentrate a lot for that. Let It Be will be a little more rock ‘n roll and maybe we’ll look at the idea of moving back towards Sgt. Peppers, we’ll see.
Do particular songs on Let It Be gravitate to you or Kram or Davey? Is there a natural fit?
There is a natural fit, it is quite simple, there are songs where we’ll be sitting in the band room after one of the Abbey Road shows going, “you know what?” “You should sing this” and someone will go “I’ll sing this” and “I reckon you could do that” then everybody goes “yeah, that’s perfect.” So it is you’ll do this, I’ll do that and things seem to find their place. All the members in ARC, the main singers are Kram, Davey and myself and we have different strengths and character traits with our vocals. It makes sense when you hear it live.
How does it get resolved if more than more of you wants the same song?
We just work it out, there will be a couple of songs where we’ll try a couple of different ways and see what feels right in context of the set and what feels right in the band room. We generally try and divvy up the vocals fairly evenly, so if there is a bit of push and pull there will be a bit of give and take basically like any group organisational decision really.
As part of your preparation do you have to study and listen to the album a lot to get in the right mindset?
Absolutely, it is one thing singing a long to the songs, it is another to get in there and learn them as there’s little details and particularly for me being a guitarist there’s lots of little nuances which fans know, even if it is buried in the mix they want to hear it come out live. There’s always a lot of detail in this band that requires preparation so when you get to performing it you play it like you wrote it.
It will be an absolute treat watching Davey Lane play these songs, he is an absolute force to be reckoned with.
He is great, he really is fantastic!
Adelaide loves Kram, how has he been in the lead up to this tour?
Kram is Kram! Putting on a show for anyone in Adelaide or anywhere else he absolutely loves it, being around people and having fun being the band leader, it’s as you see him.
Will the format of the show be similar to Abbey Road?
It will be a little different this time, we aim to do a bit differently each time when we do this album thing we do. I won’t talk too much about how the show will be laid out because I like the idea of it being a bit of a surprise. It will be different to last time.
Interview By Rob Lyon
For tickets and show information head to Live Nation