By DANIELLE HATCH
Posted Feb 08, 2009
PEORIA A cover band packed the Civic Center Theater to near
capacity on Saturday night with one of the most enthusiastic crowds
that space has seen in some time.
But maybe calling "Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles" a cover band
doesn't quite do it justice. Because in addition to playing the music
of the Beatles just as well as the Fab Four ever did, this group
recreates their mannerisms down to John Lennon impersonator Steve
Landes' subtle gum chewing. Lennon was known to occasionally chomp on
bubble gum while performing, and it makes you realize how diligently
this band has done its research.
The multi-media show took the crowd of more than 2,100 through five
sets, starting with the band's 1964 appearance on "The Ed Sullivan
Show." It rolls by fast, since tunes like "A Hard Day's Night," "All
My Lovin'" and "I Saw Her Standing There" are so short. Screens on
both sides of the stage show vintage commercials of Prell shampoo,
Duz detergent, Winston smokes being pushed by the Flintstones. Later,
we see footage of war protesters, old newspaper headlines and the
"Abbey Road" album cover (with the Rain members filling in for the Beatles).
Joey Curatolo has an uncanny resemblance to Paul McCartney. His
singing voice is very similar, and he told the crowd (in a British
accent) that he was in a good mood. During the Shea Stadium set he
got the audience to sing along to "Day Tripper," told them to stand
up and dance during "Twist and Shout." The band exploded into its
mustached Sgt. Pepper phase next, singing songs such as "With a
Little Help From My Friends," "Strawberry Fields Forever" and
"Eleanor Rigby" while smoke lapped at their knees and brightly
colored lights blinked. Normally Ringo Starr is played by Ralph
Castelli, but I believe an alternate was filling in tonight. He was a
constant smiling presence and a steady percussionist.
Most in the theater were on their feet during parts of the "Abbey
Road" set songs like "Get Back," "Come Together" and "Revolution."
Joe Bithorn as George Harrison was little more than filler until his
delicate yet dramatic guitar solo in "My Guitar Gently Weeps."
This is a dignified recreation of Beatles music, but at the same time
there's something theatrical about the experience the fake facial
hair, and how Bithorn, in the "Abbey Road" phase, resembles the
caveman from the Geico commercials. Landes' voice was sometimes too
nasally, sometimes too throaty, but the audience played along they
raised beer bottles and lighters, "koo koo kachooed" during Landes'
spirited performance of "I Am the Walrus" in the Summer of Love set.
They sang along to nearly every song and professed their love to Curatolo.
Sure, there are some who would find this sort of thing sacrilegious,
but there are lots of people who never got to see the Beatles perform
live, and if you squint your eyes a little you can imagine just how
amazing it must have been.
Danielle Hatch can be reached at 686-3262 or firstname.lastname@example.org.