BWW Reviews: Fab Four Makes Sure They Got their Beatles History Right

Ron McNeil distinctly remembers the first time he heard bandmate Ardy Sarraf sing.

"His group (Wingsband Tribute) was on stage at Beatles Convention in Los Angeles and he was singing a Paul McCartney song 'Coming Up,'" says McNeil who portrays John Lennon while Sarraf plays McCartney for the Beatles tribute band The Fab Four. "I just couldn't believe it. The hair on the back of my beck was standing up because he sounded so much like Paul McCartney."

Those who saw the Fab Four perform at New Albany's Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts in New Albany on March 8 know exactly what McNeil is talking about. I was born too late to see the Beatles take their final bow in Candlestick Park in 1966 and with the deaths of Lennon and George Harrison, seeing the Fab Four maybe as close as I come to seeing the Beatles reunite.

McNeil, Sarraf, Gavin Pring (who takes on the role of George Harrison) and Erik Fidel (who plays Ringo Starr) looked and sounded uncannily like the real thing. They took the audience on a journey opening with the Ed Sullivan/Mop top period, following it with the psychedelic Sgt. Pepper period and closing with the Let It Be/Abbey Road phase. Each epoch came with a costume change and a whole new catalog of tunes to choose from. One can trace the arc of the band's sound from the Fab Four's opening number "I Saw Her Standing There" to its crowd pleasing closer "Hey Jude."

While I didn't see Harrison, Lennon or Starr perform in person, I've seen McCartney a handful of times. Sarraf not only had McCartney's vocals down but nailed the singer's mannerisms and crowd banter perfectly. His take on "Yesterday," which was just him and acoustic guitar on stage, was perfect.

Sarraf however was only a fourth of the show. McNeil was solid as Lennon, guiding the group through many of the band's top songs. Among the highpoints of the show were McNeil's takes on "Strawberry Fields" and "A Day in the Life" from the Pepper period. McNeil even pinched a quip from Lennon, encouraging fans in the cheap seats to clap their hands and the ones in the more expensive seats to "just rattle your jewelry."

Pring, a Liverpool native, was a dead ringer for Harrison, especially after he added a moustache for Harrison's later periods with the Beatles. The Fab Four crammed Harrison's contributions into teasing snippets of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and "Something" before launching into "Here Comes The Sun"

Fidel also got step out from behind his drum kit and show off his singing voice, taking, as Ringo did, the lead vocals on "Yellow Submarine" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band."

The 90-minute set hit many of the Beatles' classic hits and included the John Lennon anthem, "Imagine." However it just skimmed the surface of the group's catalogue. It would have been nice to see them take on some of the lesser played songs, such as "All You Need Is Love," "Here, There and Everywhere," "I Will," and "We Can Work It Out."

That being said, the Fab Four did a fantastic job of presenting the history of the Beatles. It's one thing to cover a hit song or two from another band. However, to take on the entire history of a group, especially one so revered as the Beatles, is quite another.

The Fab Four did their homework, using Harrison's psychedelic painted guitar "Rocky" Stratocaster, McCartney's violin shaped Hofner bass, and Lennon's black and white Rickenbacker electric guitar among their historically accurate instruments. The Fab Four did a great job of sounding, playing and looking like the Beatles for generations that will never get the chance to see McCartney, Lennon, Harrison and Starr perform together.

One of the lasting images of the concert was the seventy-plus woman standing in front of me waving her glowing cell phone like a lighter in one hand and having her fingers spread out in a peace sign on the other hand.

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From This Author Paul Batterson

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