The Fox Theatre in Atlanta took a step back in time on Friday night as it played host to the sixties and the iconic music of The Beatles. Let it Be, a Broadway production of Beatles music played by a group of Fab Four impersonators hit all the high points of The Beatles catalogue of music and added in several of the post Beatles hits that the band members had on their own.
It has been 50 years since The Beatles last performed a paid concert, 50 years! And it’s been almost 50 years since they broke up! Consider this, they were only together as a band for 10 years and they only released 12 studio albums yet their influence on popular music is unmatched. No artist initiated or influenced changes in music in the 1960’s like the Beatles. Fascination with the Fab Four lives on and the remaining living members of the band are revered as the musical legends they are!
Their influence is far-reaching and transcends generations; every major city in the United States has a Beatles tribute band and demand from the public remains high as aging baby boomers want to recapture some of their youth by listening to the songs of their formative years while their children try to understand the hysteria the band created. Given the continued fascination, it is only natural that a touring show was put together with some of the best Beatles performers.
Let it Be is a Beatles fan’s joy. More than 40 Beatles hits and subsequent solo hits played by a group that looks and sounds (mostly) like the original Fab Four. There is no storyline, no plot it’s just one hit after another! As a tribute show it’s very well done, the actors / musicians cast in the roles of the band are excellent imitators of the stage personas that were the Beatles.
The show was divided into two halves; the first half dedicated to a chronological treatment of the development of The Beatles music. Five separate scenes formed the backdrop of the various stages of the group’s development; early days, Shea Stadium, Sergeant Peppers, Animation, and Abbey Road roof concert. In each scene, selected songs from that era were played. In each of the scenes the band were dressed appropriately so you really did feel you were watching the live performance from which so much of the existing archive footage was taken.
The second half of the show was an imaginary reunion concert played on John Lennon’s 40th birthday with John, Paul, George and Ringo as they were in 1980. The set consisted of more Beatles hits from all eras and various individual hits the band members had had since the break up in 1970.
The show is very well done. The band definitely look like The Beatles and their mannerisms are spot on, particularly Neil Candelora as Paul and Chris McBurney as Ringo. The band’s musicianship is proficient as well. JT Curtis as George is particularly talented on guitar, he has several guitar solos that were outstanding.
Each band member had opportunity to sing at least one of their namesake’s hits although the lion’s share of the work was done, expectedly, by John and Paul. The singing voices of the band are generally strong although some songs were better than others reflective of their vocal ranges not necessarily being as broad as the original. Paul’s “Penny Lane” was okay but his “Long Tall Sally” was excellent. Of all the singing voices Michael Gagliano as John was probably most consistently strong, “Twist and Shout” was first rate and “Watching the Wheels” was another highlight.
Overall their performances were very well done; they played their roles very well. I’ve no doubt there is considerable pressure playing such iconic roles. Popular culture being what it is and the Beatles being who they are; everyone has an opinion about how they should be played. The cast members on this night did a great job.
Overall the show is an excellent opportunity for baby boomers to reminisce to a live rendering of much of the music of their youth provided to them by musicians who weren’t even alive when The Beatles were a group.