Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles
Concert Review

Denver, 9/23/09


As a volunteer for the Denver Center Theatre, I often get comp tickets to shows both local and touring. This time I was offered tickets by three different people, which is some kind of record. Of course, everyone thought of me because I'm known to be a tiny bit of a Beatles fan. But I have to confess that I'm not a big fan of tribute bands. I like my Beatles straight, no chaser. Still, I had heard good things about Rain, and how could it be bad on a free ticket?

I went with my friend Russ Costen, and we made an interesting pair. I'm slightly too young to have been an original Beatles fan (I was born in 1964 and got into them in 1979), and he's slightly too old (he was in his 20s when they burst upon the scene). And Russ wasn't sure he was so much into the Beatles that he would really get into the concert. So we were both just a little... well, leery isn't quite the right word, but we went into the Temple Buell theatre (with which we are both VERY familiar) with more hope than certainty that we would be entertained.

I'm glad to say that our hopes were quite, quite realized!

The audience was about 80% Boomers and probably 10% older and 10% younger. From overhearing several people speaking, and from watching them arrive while I waited for Russ, I gathered that some had never been to the Buell before. (For shame, people! Attend the theatre, it's lots of fun!) It was a pretty decent crowd once everyone was seated; all the good seats were filled, and the only empties I could see from my vantage point were at the back left of the orchestra. I have no idea about the back of the mezzanine or balcony, but there were people in the front rows of both, at least. We were sitting far off to the left, with our view slightly blocked by the box seat ahead and above us. I think most of the people in our section had been comped.

As you might expect, the show opened with videos and stills from the 1950s, as well as a bit of prerecorded music from that era. But then the video switched to a faux-Ed Sullivan, who introduced Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles! And up went the curtain to reveal the four guys in full Early Beatles uniform.

From then on they would switch through the various articles of clothing we all know and love, different concert outfits, Sgt. Pepper outfits, and so forth. They had Beatles concert moves down pat, which was fun to watch. In fact, they would pretty much get the moves right through each era. Behind and flanking them were videos and multimedia shows with Rain standing in for the Beatles in many classic scenes and photographs. During one costume change, they showed some hilarious 60s-era commercials. They also had the requisite videos of the Summer of Love, Vietnam, etc. as well as old-style psychedelic lights and images. I think my favorite graphic was the slowly hand-drawn sketches that played during "Imagine."

They ran through a long set of classics, though strangely they never did play "Rain." But they did some unlikely ones, like "A Day in the Life," "Strawberry Fields Forever," and "I Am the Walrus," complete with original sound effects. ("Sit you down, father, rest you!") Near the end, they played some John solo stuff: "Give Peace a Chance" and "Imagine." As you might guess, peace was the theme of the evening. For the early songs they were quite faithful; for the later ones, especially the complicated studio ones, they varied a bit. Probably the most variance came with "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," where the guy playing George did a killer solo that got a standing ovation. The whole band got one when they finished, and they of course came out for an encore, finishing the evening with "Hey Jude." (The crowd chanted for "Hey Jude" while we waited for the encore to start.)

The audience went from slightly bemused (I mean, come on, people, do you always have to be told when to clap?) to ecstatic by the end. I've been to dozens of shows at the Buell, and I have never heard an audience screaming so loud at the end.

Russ proved that he remembered more than he expected; he sang along with every song in the first act and most in the second act. I sang along as well, and drummed along at the notable bits.

Two things annoyed me. One was that the videos were off sync and sometimes even froze for a few seconds. The other was that the guys would throw quips at each other on stage after a number, but they were impossible to hear because of all the audience screaming. They could've waited for things to die down a bit... though I expect they didn't have pauses built into the show.

These were minor things, though. Overall, it was a splendid show, and both Russ and I left feeling very good and very glad we'd come. Russ said he gained a whole new appreciation for Beatles music! I would recommend Rain to anyone.

Rain website: http://raintribute.com/

All non-lyric material copyright 2009, D. Aviva Rothschild. All rights reserved

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