I was eleven years old when I saw The Beatles for the first time. It was Sunday night, and they were the headline act for The Ed Sullivan Show. All week long people were talking about their appearance with great anticipation and excitement. The Ed Sullivan Show was a variety show that ran from 1949 to 1971. It was a television version of vaudeville that featured, musical groups, circus acts, comedians, novelty acts and more.
Finally, the show started. Ed Sullivan announces them and they open with All My Loving, then Till There Was You and She Loves You. I was mesmerized. My parents naturally ridiculed them. “Look at their hair,” said my father, “they look like girls!” They played two more songs in the second half of the show: I Saw Her Standing There and I Want To Hold Your Hand. My mother was equally unkind. “I can’t understand the words,” she cried. I knew, at that moment, things would never be the same again. My parents hated them; I naturally loved them. Within a few months, kids were growing their hair longer and buying Beatles records (yes, those black vinyl disks that scratched way too easily). I even had a Beatles wig and a Ringo doll. The British Invasion had begun.
The Beatles, along with the other countless bands from England, helped shape my listening habits and love for music. Unfortunately, due to the tragic shooting of John Lennon and the untimely death of George Harrison, a Beatles reunion is impossible. Or so I thought.
A few years ago, I was channel surfing and came across the local PBS station airing a Rain concert. Rain is a Beatles tribute band that not only has a successful Broadway show, but a phenomenal road show as well. They don’t just sound like the Beatles, they ARE the Beatles. They look, sound, act and talk like them. Their musical ability is scary. The singing, harmonizing, guitar playing and drumming is on par with any top-notch band on the scene today.
Last night was our fourth time seeing them at the Oakdale Theater in Wallingford. The Oakdale is my favorite concert venue. The seating is great and the acoustics are out of this world. Traffic was a nightmare because they were sold out, but they delayed the show until most people were seated. We made our way to our seats and settled in. A couple in back of us had never seen the show and was curious as to how good it is. I assured them that they were in for a great time. The couple to the left us should have worn their Depends. They could not stop getting up and peeing. Oi Vai!
On the video screen, a montage of the sixties is playing. An Ed Sullivan impersonator introduces them and the curtain goes up. Rain breaks into I Want To Hold Your Hand. The audience is stunned. Close your eyes and you are listening to the Beatles. The band is dressed in black suits, white shirts and skinny black ties. “Paul” is playing the bass left-handed. “Ringo” is playing Ludwig drums. The monitors are simulcasting the show in black and white. Remember this is supposed to be 1964. They continue with This Boy and then I Saw Her Standing There.
“Paul” does a beautiful acoustic solo of Yesterday. Remember he played the bass left-handed; well he played the guitar right-handed. I cannot even begin to fathom how difficult that is. A quick costume and set change and you are now at the famous Shea Stadium concert. That crowd was so loud that The Beatles couldn’t hear themselves through their monitors.
As we travel through the albums with them, the videos change to reflect what was going on in the cultural and political fields. From a commercial of Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone taking a Winston cigarette break, Prell Shampoo(the pearl included), Duz detergent with free stockings, to Woodstock, Vietnam and the Moon landing. During intermission, Beatles’ trivia questions were displayed. Did you know that Stu Sutcliffe, the original bassist left the band for Astrid Kichherr, a world-renowned photographer? Cherchez la femme.
One of the most notable songs of the evening was a brilliant arrangement of Norwegian Wood. “Paul” played electric bass while “John” and “George” played acoustic guitars. “Ringo” kept the groove by simply playing a tambourine. It was extraordinary. Another fun song was I’ve Just Seen a Face. “Ringo” was playing the brushes with a two-beat drum groove. The effect was almost (I hate to say it) country.
At the end of the show, everyone was up on their feet singing, dancing and smiling. It was such an amazing concert. I would recommend it to anyone who is a Beatles fan. You will not be disappointed. It will make you feel fifteen all over again!
I Want To Hold Your Hand
All My Loving
I Saw Her Standing There
Hard Days Night
I’m Happy Just To Dance With You
I Feel Fine
Twist And Shout
Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
With A Little Help From My Friends
Strawberry Fields Forever
When I’m 64
Sergeant Pepper Reprise
A Day In The Life
I Am The Walrus
Do You Want To Know A Secret
There Are Places I Remember
Two Of Us
I’ve Just Seen A Face
Give Peace A Chance
Let It Be