RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles
“Dad, what are The Beatles?”
How do you capture all the nuances of that answer? First, always first, is the music. After the CDs, a viable place to start is a decent tribute band. I have yet to do the research, but it is a safe bet that The Beatles have left in their wake more tribute bands than any other. RAIN ranks right up there.
RAIN has been honing their craft for over two decades, which has given them plenty of time to evolve their set list, stage patter and visual presentation. Like many Beatles tribute bands, RAIN takes a chronological approach with the Ed Sullivan show as the launch pad. Invariably with any tribute band, the first appearance of the band members causes some furrowed brows (“that doesn’t really look like Ringo”). But with a good tribute band, like RAIN, the aural overtakes the visual.
The band consists of Joey Curatolo (Paul), Joe Bithorn (George), Steve Landes (John), Ralph Castelli (Ringo) and Mark Lewis (Billy Preston?). Each bandmember had stints with “Beatlemania.” By the show’s end, one acknowledges the bandmembers’ love of their role models.
Cleverly integrating vintage video footage, RAIN reminds those who weren’t there of the social and political timeframe in which The Beatles worked. The monitors at the Pantages were often hilarious (as in the commercials from the era), and often self-referential (the crowd shots were from the Pantages audience itself). Whenever key moments were portrayed, the RAIN logo and crew replaced The Beatles trademarked logo and faces, undoubtedly to keep the lawyers at bay.
The chronological approach to the music meant that the costumes evolved from the crisp Edwardian suits of 1963-64 to the groovy Sgt. Pepper uniforms of 1967 to the casual and more hirsute look of The Beatles’ later years. In that The Beatles as a band only existed for an incredibly prolific and astoundingly short six years, the compression of time is buttressed by the best canon in modern music. RAIN performed with aplomb, capturing the solos, look and feel of the songs with precision.
The crowd took to their feet with the tribute to George in “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and stood again as the first ripping chords of “Revolution” were recognized.
There is a growing satisfaction with which those in my generation observe younger folks clamoring over The Beatles. Despite only gingerly taking first steps into the digital age, The Beatles’ music continues to resonate. Eventually their music will be found legitimately online (ironically first through a company which has no connection to the band’s corporation Apple). Later this year Rock Band will introduce The Beatles’ music into that realm. Their CDs continue to be bestsellers, and will eventually be treated to a reissue program deserving of their stature. The pre-eminent Beatles stage experience remains LOVE by Cirque du Soleil; as well it should – it is the only authorized use of The Beatles original recordings.
But a tribute band that knows its way around the Liverpudlians oeuvre, that is a splendid time indeed. On that score, RAIN delivers.
Rain: The Tribute to Beatles plays through April 5 at Pantages Theater in Hollywood. Fore more information, visit www.raintribute.com