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Nostalgia reigns at the Beatles’ tribute experience

by Ryan Snyder

Nostalgia reigns at the Beatles’ tribute experience
Cover bands come and coverbands go, but the wayRain: A Tribute to theBeatles Experience hascarved out a niche in honor of one ofthe greatest acts of all time is rarelyseen. Need proof? Albums of their liveconcerts were selling for $20 a pop duringtheir three performances at the WarMemorial Auditorium this past weekend.That’s a recording of a tribute actperforming live and selling for archaicbrick-and-mortar CD shack prices. Youknow, the kind that killed the musicindustry. All three could be had for$55 and people were buying them up.Naturally, these were the same folks whodidn’t realize the same music, or eventhe originals, could be had for nothingin digital form as a defiant result of thatsame pricing model. Sometimes, however,sentimentality can make people docrazy things and a Rain performance hasa way of inducing a powerful surge of it.With the deluge of Beatles’ marketingaccompanying the recent Rock Bandedition, it’s impossible to forget just howgood the band’s music is. How theywere live, on the other hand, is almostanyone’s guess nowadays. Rain doesn’tnecessarily attempt to recreate the FabFour’s shows with utter sincerity like likeother well-known cover bands, such asSticky Fingers or the Machine. What itlacks in obsessive verisimilitude it makesup for with unmistakable optimism andcharm in its interpretation, particularlyduring their murky latter days.The first such show on Friday nightopened with an Ed Sullivan lookalikepopping up on the projection screensflanking the stage who, with an exaggeratedhunch and a deadpan delivery,gives America its first taste of the groupthat would sell more records than anyoneelse, ever. Staged footage of Raindeboarding a British Airways plane —an airline that didn’t exist until 10 yearslater — depleted stabs at an authenticstateside arrival, however. An honest portrayalof “I Want to Hold Your Hand” ledoff, with flashing applause signs provingsuperfluous. Ralph Castelli madegood on this era’s Ringo Starr not onlythrough spot-on drumming that evolvedin complexity as the show progressed,but with a robotic head nod that almostseemed satirical.Vintage reels of hysterical, cryingteenagers accented the Beatles’ teeniebopperdays, though black-and-whiteshots of some of the stilted, humorlesssquares in attendance seemed to presentan unwanted transformation overthe years. Even John (Steve Landes)imploring them to their feet for anexuberant “Twist and Shout” left manyRAINperforms inthe Beatles’Sgt. Pepper’sera. (courtesyphoto)unfazed.The show transitioned into theBeatles’ movie years with only a minorset change as the black suits remainedand the audience was given the acoustictreatment for the first time. A performanceof “Yesterday,” ironically thesong with the most cover versionsin history, cast the spotlight on TomTeeley — and not the right-handed JoeyCuratolo — as the man playing Paulfor the evening. It was at this momentthat the show’s strange narrative devicesstuck out, with Teeley playing Paul fromthe first person as he told the song’s“Scrambled Eggs” history one momentand then paying homage to the great “SirPaul” the next.A major overhaul of stage, costumeand appearance accompanied the welcomedarrival of the Sgt. Pepper’s era.Hearing the album’s title track, “Witha Little Help from my Friends” and “ADay in the Life” performed with integrityproved to be two of the evening’shigh points, though one has to raise aneyebrow at the placement of “EleanorRigby” from the earlier period’s Revolverstuck in their midst.Rain dove immediately into theband’s psychedelic era after a briefintermission, working in “I Am theWalrus” and “Strawberry Fields Forever”as the screens, all but bereft of authenticfootage from that time, broadcast cheesypsychedelic swirls. With arguably someof their finest work in “Dear Prudence,”“Helter Skelter” and “Happiness is aWarm Gun” coming out of these records,it was disappointed to hear them cast offin favor of these less acclaimed “name”tracks.Yellow Submarine was all but ignored,save for a listless “All You Need isLove” over the far superior “HeyBulldog,” as Rain transitioned into theirAbbey Road suits. George Harrison(Joe Bithorn) did give the night’s mostmoving instrumental during an emotional,though chronologically inaccurate“While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” Theevening’s finale strangely included JohnLennon’s “Imagine” and the Plastic OnoBand’s “Give Peace a Chance” beforeremembering that they are actually aBeatles tribute act and closing with “HeyJude.” The opportunities to delve into theunderrated classics like “In My Life” andthe band’s own namesake “Rain” werethere, but that they were forsaken for thesurefire crowd-pleasers was, well, veryun-Beatleslike. !RAIN performs in the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s era. (courtesy photo)

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