BY MICHELLE PARKS
May 28, 2009
FAYETTEVILLE - So that's what it could have been like to see The Beatles.
Rain, a Beatles tribute band, on Tuesday performed the first of eight
shows, which continue through Sunday, at the Walton Arts Center.
Much more than a concert, and much more than a tribute band, these
guys took the audience on a multidimensional trip back in time. And
it was one of the most entertaining shows to grace the arts center's
stage in its 17-year history.
The show took the audience through the Beatles' career - starting
with their first U.S. performance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.
The members of Rain approached their incredible impression - with
vocals, instruments, looks and mannerisms - with great attention to
detail. But they didn't let that focus restrict their vocals or
There was a bit of a courtship between the band - David Leon as John
Lennon, Joey Curatolo as Paul McCartney, Tom Teeley as George
Harrison and Joe Bologna as Ringo Starr - and the audience. (Mark
Lewis, the manager, played keyboards and percussion subtly on stage).
By the end of the night, they were in love with each other.
The crowd bought in to the suspended belief of these guys, and the
band proved the lasting power of The Beatles' music. In this two-hour
show, it was fascinating to see their music and looks mature and
evolve. It was interesting to see the distribution of lead and backup
vocals and instrumentation on various songs.
A multimedia presentation made use of screens at the back and sides
of the stage. In between five scene and costume changes, the screens
showed footage of Beatles concerts, but with Rain members inserted as
By using a live camera projection, images of the arts center crowd
were mixed in with those of actual Beatles concerts, with fans
crying, fainting and screaming.
A fascinating video with psychedelic graphics accompanied "Eleanor
Rigby," one of the better of the night's some 30 songs.
When choosing from the prolific band's songs, a few would be
must-haves: "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "A Hard Day's Night,"
"Imagine," "Strawberry Fields Forever." They did those, but also
presented a range of tunes: "Hello Goodbye," "I Am the Walrus" and
"Norwegian Wood." Three of them played lovely acoustic guitars on
"Mother Nature's Son."
Many in the crowd weren't alive when The Beatles made their last
concert tour in 1966, before Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
and Abbey Road were recorded. Still, they were all fans.
The crowd softly sang along to "Yesterday," which Curatolo performed
perfectly with an acoustic guitar. They clapped along to "Day
Tripper." The band's harmony came through clear on "Twist and Shout."
"A Day in the Life," with Leon on vocals and keyboard, had an eerie
feeling. The music got loud and chaotic, then simple and calm again
as a white spotlight shined on him.
Teeley sang great vocals on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," then
switched to an electric guitar midway and rocked out. They wound
things down with "Come Together," "Give Peace a Chance" and "The End."
During the encore, a crowd of people in suits, shorts, tie-dyed
shirts and cowboy hats and with piercings, dreadlocks and gray hair
stood together, swaying and singing along to "Imagine" and "Let It Be."
Once Curatolo uttered "Hey Jude," the crowd took off with the rest of
the first line, in what turned in to an extended singalong.
The show brought to life the emotional, thought-provoking
storytelling songs of a revered band that always spoke to its time -
songs that still ring true. And it left some wondering what the
original Fab Four would have to say today.