For many of us, the Beatles and the music the group produced equal the apex of popular music. There’s never been a band so well-loved; songs and albums so critically acclaimed; no musical group so commercially successful.
For those of you in the right place at the right time, you may have been able to see John, Paul, George, and Ringo perform live back in the early- and mid-1960s. For the majority of us, however, we’ll never be able to say “I saw the Beatles.”
Except, well, now you actually can.
“We’re a loving tribute to the Beatles,” explained Fab Four Ron McNeil, who performs as John Lennon.
The “tribute band” industry has exploded in the past decade, with bands paying homage to their — and our — favorite groups by essentially “becoming” them and playing live onstage. Few are better than The Fab Four.
“It’s a wonderful thing. Look, work is work, right? But I’m blessed. The Beatles are my passion, and would still be even if I wasn’t performing their songs,” McNeil said.
McNeil and his “Liverpudlian mates” Ardy Sarraf (Paul McCartney), Gavin Pring (George Harrison) and Erik Fidel (Ringo Starr) perform as the Beatles through the Fabs’ different eras, from replicating their 1964 performance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” to John Lennon’s post-Beatles iconic message of love and hope, “Imagine.”
“Personally, I’m a big fan of their 1966 to late-1967 period –from ‘Revolver’ through ‘Sgt. Pepper’ to ‘Magical Mystery Tour,’” admitted McNeil. “But I like each era, as a performer, for different reasons. Since it’s just the four of us playing live, songs from ‘Pepper’ are tough to pull off, but we like challenges.”
Expect to hear some of the most popular Lennon-McCartney songs such as “Yesterday,” “Help!,” and “A Day In The Life,” but with a few surprises thrown in for good measure.
“There are still certain songs that don’t resonate well live on stage that we haven’t attempted, like George’s ‘Long, Long, Long’ and, of course, ‘Revolution #9,’” said McNeil. “That’s all tape loops. But every once in awhile we’ll play something unique, like ‘Oh, Darling’ or ‘Helter Skelter.’”
Complete with costume changes to reflect the years of the songs being played, the spectacle of seeing The Fab Four onstage is second to none. It’s as if the Beatles themselves were actually playing. Seriously — close your eyes and you may not be able to tell the difference between the Fabs and The Fab Four.
“It’s one of the things that sets us apart from other tribute bands — we play live,” said McNeil. “We’re not singing to backing tracks. So it’s satisfying that we pull it off and play Beatles songs that they, in fact, never played live.”
Please visit www.pechanga.com for more information and concert tickets.
Chris Baptiste is a local writer and regular contributor to SWRNN.