‘Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles’ at New Jersey Performing Arts Center, Newark , N.J. – Review
Some 52 years ago, the Beatles invaded America, arriving on Pan Am Flight 101, a Boeing 707 (tail number N704PA, Clipper Defiance; this information provided for the aviation geeks in the room).
The Fab Four were together for a mere ten years, but made history many times over. As Beatlemania grew, the group produced numerous hit albums including “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” “The Beatles” (often referred to as the “White Album”), and “Abbey Road.”
The Beatles inspired a television cartoon series, which ran in the mid 1960s, and they continue to be the best-selling musical artists of all time in the United States, almost half a century after disbanding.
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and it isn’t surprising that their music and performance style have been painstakingly recreated by a tribute band called Rain, which formed in 1975 and performed both original music and Beatles covers. The group’s founding predates the Broadway show “Beatlemania” (although all of its members have in some way been involved in that musical) and they had a successful run on the Great White Way for some 300 performances.
“Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles” came to the New Jersey Performing Arts Center on Friday and brought the Psychedelic 60s with them. While a variety of performers do a Beatles number or two, this was different in that Rain doesn’t stop at recreating Beatles songs but channels the Beatles appearance and visual cues at the same time. It’s not just throwing on mop-top wigs, however; it’s clear that the performers have spent years adopting on-stage personas, mannerisms, and speaking voices, and combined these with a level of musicianship that many hope to achieve but few succeed.
Steve Landes’ John Lennon sang close enough to the original that I had to wonder if Yoko might not make an appearance on stage at some point. His musicianship was in evidence as he gracefully moved between keyboard and guitar throughout the evening.
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