You had to be there

Rain: The Beatles Experience,  Opera House, October 21, 2006
By BRETT MILANO  |  October 23, 2006

When watching a Beatles tribute band, even a pretty good outfit like the one in Rain: The Beatles Experience at the Opera House last weekend, anyone who grew up with the Beatles will always be tempted to say what Ringo Starr is reported to have said to a John Lennon impersonator: “I knew the real one.”

The most notable part of Saturday’s performance wasn’t the show itself: it was the introduction by Sid Bernstein, the impresario who booked both the Beatles’ Carnegie Hall debut in 1964 and the Shea Stadium show a year later. Now well into his 80s, Bernstein came on stage to reminisce a bit and to enthuse about Rain, and he seemed an ambassador from a classier, long-gone era of show business. He was in turn introduced by Kate Taylor, James and Livingston’s little sis, who made a pretty good album herself in 1971; she talked about watching the Beatles as a teen.

Rain turned out to be the most accurate of tribute bands, and that made them at once all right and all wrong. Their vocals were dead-on, even if “Paul” (Joey Curatolo) looked more like Neil Innes. The show re-created key moments in Beatledom, both real (the Sullivan and Shea shows) and made-up (concerts in the Sgt. Pepper and “White Album” eras). Many songs were needlessly shortened, but give them credit for including some great lesser-known tunes. (“It’s Only Love” was done in the Shea segment, though the Beatles never played it live.) And the one post-Beatle song, Lennon’s “Imagine,” made a fitting finale, since you can’t be a good Beatle band without espousing love and peace. Between sets they showed footage of the Rain members spliced or photoshopped into key Beatles scenes — true Beatles footage is, it would seem, not cheap to license. But since they blurred the fantasy/reality line, never introducing band members by name, it wasn’t clear whether we were pretending to watch the Beatles or just watching a band pretending to be the Beatles.

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