The RAIN Experience Is More Than Just a State of Mind
They may have sold more records than any band in history, but there’s very little institutional memory about how the Beatles were in concert. That’s to be expected from a band that hasn’t toured in 43 years and only performed two highly-publicized events in their final three years. With six albums of iconic material that went largely unperformed in concert, there’s very little to go on for artists attempting to perform the Beatles’ work. Despite the dearth of live footage from the band’s twilight years, one band has made their name by paying due diligence to even the most trivial source of inspiration.
For almost 30 years, RAIN has been the definitive performing engine of the Beatles entire catalog and in that time, has developed into more of a theatrical display than just a simple rock concert. It’s a full-blown multimedia experience that takes its audience through every major phase of the band’s career, complete with costume changes, stage backdrops and video display. Beginning with “The Ed Sullivan Show” performance, the band explores the movie years and the Beatles’ first US gig in Shea Stadium. From there, it gets a little tricky with transformations into the Sgt. Pepper’s psychedelic era and Let It Be.
Steve Landes, the band’s John Lennon, says that RAIN must take their cues from films, interviews and promo pieces in an attempt to piece together their own inspired interpretation of how songs like “A Day in the Life” and “Dear Prudence” might have sounded in concert.
“You have to take liberties in that kind of sense. They didn’t perform these songs on stage, so you have to say, ‘What if they did?’,” Landes said. “But the music gets more difficult as you go along so there’s a lot more to do, but it’s more fun to put together in a live performance.”
The band is officially an offshoot of Beatlemania, with each of the band’s four primaries having played the same roll in the defunct Broadway production. Save for one instantly noticeable detail, their characters are genuine, mastered through countless repetitions and a sincere
love of the Beatles’ music. When asked to give his best offhand Lennon impersonation, Landes coolly replied, “No, we’d need money first,” in a syrupy Liverpudlian drawl mastered through countless visits to the Beatles’ birthplace.
“Some of the fun parts are just interpreting what he might have said on stage because we’ll talk about the specific venues as if the Beatles were in your town,” Landes said. “It’s so much of who they were and who we remember them as. So much of their humor comes from that distinctive Liverpudlian personality.”
The show doesn’t take into account the sordid details of the Beatles’ final touring days as the band grew more and more fearful of the massive audiences they began attracting, however. Instead, Landes says that the RAIN shows are more of a utopian depiction of the Beatles peak years with their entire catalog available or, quite literally, even better than the real thing. Fans will also need to willingly suspend disbelief at the peculiar orientation of the band’s front line, since RAIN’s Paul McCartney (Joey Curatalo) is right-handed.
“We always say, ‘Yeah, but he sings left-handed so it all evens out.’ Those are the little things though,” Landes said. “What’s more important: to look the part and have the music suffer? Or pay tribute to the best rock and roll bassist ever?” Paying tribute has its costs. Each of the band members have practically put their own songwriting careers on hold while RAIN tours most of the year. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Landes’ own music is heavily Beatlesinspired and he’s optimistic that he’ll have the opportunity to put it at the forefront. For now, there’s plenty of time to write and record music on those long bus rides between cities. For now, he’s happy to just let it be.
RAIN will perform three shows at the War Memorial Auditorium this Friday, Nov. 20, and Saturday, Nov. 21.
RAIN performs in the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s era. (courtesy photo)