By Nick McCabe – Front Row Photo
To call The Fab Four a Beatles tribute band is like calling the New York Philharmonic Orchestra a Beethoven tribute band. It just doesn’t say enough about them, but I can’t come up with an appropriate cubby to put them in so we’ll go with Tribute Band. I would, however, call this a hybrid show - part musical comedy and part rock concert. To pull this off as well as they did, these guys have to be fantastic musicians, and quality actors. They are playing characters during the entire show while performing iconic music to an audience full of Beatles fans that are more than familiar with the songs and are likely to be looking for a chink in the armor. There were none to be heard. Make no mistake about it. This was a theatrical performance. It started off with Jerome Patrick Hoban as Ed Sullivan (he played Ed Sullivan in Pulp Fiction) doing a couple minutes as Ed introducing the Beatles in a befuddled, confused fashion.
The Fab Four came out to excited screams (not teenage screams, but still screams) and kicked it off as the Beatles did 50 years ago on The Ed Sullivan Show with “All My Loving”. They continued to play songs from that historic February 1964 performance with “I Want To Hold Your Hand”, “Till There Was You” and “This Boy”. A nice addition to this segment of the show was having the video screens in Harrah’s South Shore Room play footage of the ‘crazed’ teenage girls screaming during the original Ed Sullivan performance. At one point a couple ladies in our audience ran up the isle to the stage. One of them posed with the band behind her and the other lifted the cell phone camera to take a picture. Instantly the three band members up front ran up behind the posed person and photo bombed the shot. I thought that was a classic move. After a roughly 35 minute set they took a break to change costumes (era’s).
After the break they started with Paul (Ardavan Sarraf) playing “Yesterday” solo. Ed Sullivan joined him on stage after the song and ran through some very funny jokes. After a hilarious routine the entire band returned to the stage in full Sgt Peppers regalia and broke into “Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band”. Considering the historic significance of the Sgt Peppers album it’s not surprising that this segment was through the roof! In just under 30 minutes they got psychedelic with ‘Strawberry Fields” and youthful with “Yellow Submarine” (and they even had a big Yellow Submarine float by). This was Ringo’s (Erik Fidel from nearby Sacramento) time to shine, and then they went back to psychedelic with “Day In The Life”. The way they did the string buildup at the end without having a string section was amazing. After some more audience interaction Ed came back to the stage and the band exited the stage to change costumes again. This show kept getting better and better.
After this break John (founding member Ron McNeil) came to the stage with his long hair, white suit and famous Talisman necklace that Lennon was rarely seen without during this period. While staying in full Lennon Character McNeil left humor behind and gave a short but serious speech about the tragedy of John Lennon being shot down in front of his own home on December 8, 1980. The room went silent during his monologue. It was emotional and well done (Jolly good Ron). He then eloquently transitioned from his speech into “Imagine”. After this George (Gavin Pring…from Liverpool) came out in his hippie attire and played a medley of “While My Guitar Gentry Weeps, Something, and Here Comes The Sun” (all penned by George Harrison). Next up was “Revolution”. I guess I was enjoying their performance so much I forgot to take notes anymore until they eventually can back with their encore of “Let it Be” and “Hey Jude”.
Yes, I know it wasn’t the Beatles and that it was just a tribute band, but they played it so well (in many ways) that I enjoyed it as much as it could be enjoyed. The Beatles were a huge part of my youth. I sat on the floor in front of our TV that February evening in 1964 and watched them blast out of the TV and into my life. That was the day I decided I wanted to play music. They disbanded a mere 6 years later, but their music and social impact are the tapestry of my youth. If not for them, I would probably not be doing this today.
And what about you? How would your world be different? Would you even exist?
To experience a huge slideshow of pictures from this performance, click here. No pop-ups!
…and the beat goes on.
Nick can be reached at : firstname.lastname@example.org