For Father’s Day, Gail and the boys got me tickets for a show in Toronto called Rain: A Tribute To The Beatles, which we went to see this past Sunday afternoon. It was partially a gift for Gail as well, since just me and the boys went, so she had a day to herself. Given the events of the past few months, she hasn’t had a lot of time to herself, so it was nice to be able to give her a day to do whatever she wanted.
Anyway, I was a little concerned that we were paying quite a bit of money for a concert by a tribute band. Even if the band was really good, $100/ticket is pretty expensive for a concert. I saw a band called 1964 at Ontario Place a bunch of years ago (for free!), and they were pretty good as the early Beatles. But they were basically recreating a Beatles concert from 1964, and so they only played early Beatles stuff. Rain played songs from the entire Beatles catalogue, including many songs that the Beatles never played live. They changed costumes several times, and they had video screens to enhance the whole multimedia experience. It was much more than just a band playing Beatles songs.
The guys in the band kind of resembled the Beatles, though we were in the fourth row of the balcony so we weren’t all that close. I did notice that while they had video cameras showing the band, they never had close-ups of any one person. When they changed costumes, they changed hairstyles and facial hair as well. There were a couple of anomalies:
- John Lennon has a full beard on the cover of Abbey Road, but the guy playing John did not have any facial hair while wearing his Abbey Road outfit
- the guy playing Paul McCartney was not left-handed (though I imagine finding a left-handed musician who can play bass, guitar, and piano and sing like McCartney is rather difficult)
- the guy playing Ringo was a decent singer. Obviously he didn’t do enough research.
During one costume change break, they played a few TV commercials from the 60’s which were quite funny; did you know that Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble smoked Winstons?
The first half of the show consisted of songs from albums up to and including Sgt. Pepper and at least three different outfits for each “Beatle”. Ryan was a little disappointed that they did not play “Help!”, his favourite Beatles song. The Sgt. Pepper songs were done in full Sgt. Pepper costume, which was very cool. They finished the first half with A Day In The Life, letting that awesome final chord shake the floor for a while before bringing the lights up.
The whole second half consisted of songs the Beatles never performed live, the only exception being “Get Back”, which was recorded when the Beatles played live on the roof of Apple Records. They did a bit of an acoustic set, playing “Girl” and “Mother Nature’s Son” (I was waiting for “Blackbird”, but no such luck), and shortly thereafter cranked the amps up to eleven to play Revolution. From the Abbey Road medley, the only song they played was “The End” – I would like to have heard “Golden Slumbers” and “Carry That Weight” as well.
Just before the show started, an announcement was made saying that no pre-recorded music was used during the show, but that’s not quite true. The band certainly played their instruments, but they made heavy use of the synthesizer for some songs. Parts of Strawberry Fields Forever and the orchestra swells and final chord in A Day In The Life would have been difficult to play live even with a synth, so I suspect there was either some sampling or at least those pieces were pre-recorded. Also, the seriously distorted scream at the beginning of “Revolution” sounded exactly like the one on the recording. The weirdest part was during Eleanor Rigby. The only instruments in this entire song are strings (violins, violas, cellos), none of which were played by anyone on stage. I’m sure they used the synth for this one too, but the weird part was that both “Paul” and “George” appeared to be pretending to play their instruments during the song. Seeing as how there is no bass or guitar in the song, I don’t know why they’d be doing this.
The three of us loved the show, and judging by the standing ovation at the end, the majority of the crowd did as well (one exception was the grouch sitting a few seats down from us, who never stood, clapped, sang, or even smiled through the whole show). It wasn’t the cheapest concert ever, but the musicians were really good, the music was obviously fantastic, and we really enjoyed ourselves, so it was a great day all around.