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MANHATTAN'S TOWN HALL "AMERICA CELEBRATES THE BEATLES- ALL STAR CONCERT"

MELANIE, AL JARDINE AND RICHARD BARONE SHARE A BACKSTAGE LAUGH - PHOTO BY ELLIOT STEPHEN COHEN - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
MELANIE, AL JARDINE AND RICHARD BARONE SHARE A BACKSTAGE LAUGH - PHOTO BY ELLIOT STEPHEN COHEN - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
MELANIE, AL JARDINE AND RICHARD BARONE SHARE A BACKSTAGE LAUGH - PHOTO BY ELLIOT STEPHEN COHEN - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

BY ELLIOT STEPHEN COHEN

With just about everyone and their brother jumping on the 50th anniversary of The Beatles arrival in the U.S., why not the venerable 91-year-old Town Hall?

Saturday night's celebration offered such disparate celebrities as actors Danny Aiello and Charles Grodin, famed mentalist The Amazing Kreskin, local TV weatherman Tony Perkins, '60s British songstress Julie Grant, jazz pianist Roger Kellaway and 2010 American Idol finalist Siobhan Magnus.

Of course, considering the program's theme, there were plenty of veteran rockers on hand, like Tommy James, The Rascals' Gene Cornish, ex-Stories singer Ian Lloyd, John Ford from The Strawbs and original Beach Boy Al Jardine. Rich Pagano of the fine Beatles' tribute band The Fab Faux manned the drums and served as the evening's musical director.

Not all the music performed was written by The Beatles, but when it wasn't, the group's spirit was highly evident.

Some of the evening best musical moments were provided by Melanie, whose early '70s hit "Lay Down Candles In The Rain" was quite possibly Lennon or Harrison-inspired. Marshall Crenshaw, as usual, was terrific. Instead of opening with just another Beatles song, he chose "Lies," a 1965 hit popularized by a short-haired, very un-hip-looking New Jersey Beatle-sound-a-like band, The Knickerbockers. Crenshaw's vocals and blazing electric guitar work on "Lies" and especially on George Harrison's "It's All Too Much" were beyond terrific.

Al Jardine, the show's headliner, closed things with his signature Beach Boys' classic, "Help, Me Rhonda," before being joined by many of the evening's performers, including Walter Eagan, Richard Barone and Ron Dante (plus a Ringo "look-alike") for a rousing rendition of "With A Little Help From My Friends."

To paraphrase what The Beatles sang in 1967, "A splendid time had been guaranteed for all."