Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles

         Rain, left to right: Steve Landes, Aaron Chiazza, Alastar McNeil & Paul Curatolo

Rain A Tribute to The Beatles, is perhaps the greatest concert I've ever seen live. I understand that's a bold statement, considering I've seen some of the world's biggest bands, like U2, Coldplay, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith and the list goes on. 

The reason I say that is that the experience Rain leaves you with is nothing less than magical. Rain sends you back in time, and gives everyone the ability to see what The Beatles looked like, whilst experiencing the music The Beatles were never able to replicate on stage. 

The show starts off with Rain sporting the suits The Beatles wore on their 1964 debut tour in America, and on the Ed Sullivan Show. I had the chance to interview Rain backstage, and I noticed the attention to specific detail in their attire was spectacular. From their make up, the Beatle boots, suits and hair, every detail has been combed over to ensure the integrity of the show.

I call this combination, "Icing and cake." The icing is the show, which includes the costumes, and the visual experience of being transported back in time seeing The Beatles. The stage presence that each member has is an art in itself. Each member of Rain is true to their character on stage, down the the smallest nuance. As musicians and artists, they put aside how they individually would play their instruments, and take on the distinct style in how The Beatles played and acted. So not only do they need to master their instruments, they need to master the characters they are portraying, who just so happen to be the most popular band in history. No easy task!

To me, their most spectacular attribute is Paul Curatolo, who portrays Paul McCartney. Curatolo is a second generation Rain member, as his father, Joey Curatolo played McCartney for many years with Rain. However unlike his father, Paul Curatolo learned to play the bass guitar left-handed, despite being right handed! As a member of the audience, my brain is never distracted looking at a right handed Paul McCartney, which many other Beatles tributes bands have. A left handed Paul McCartney is a must in this show! Rain has recognized this, and addressed it perfectly. Curatolo is an animated, and charismatic McCartney who interacts well with the crowd. He simply nails McCartney in a way I've never seen before.

In fact, each member of Rain places their own personality aside, and remains true to the Beatle they are portraying. Drummer Aaron Chiazza who plays Ringo Starr, bobs his head, smiles and plays the kit in the style which emulates Starr perfectly.

The silent Beatle, George Harrison is portrayed by the newest member of Rain, Hawaii native, Alastar McNeil. I can imagine being flanked by Lennon and McCartney, and being the guy in the middle who doesn't get his due, would be over shadowing. But Rain includes 3 straight songs where Alastar McNeil gives us the special gifts true to George Harrison, and shares that with us in a way where you hear, and feel George Harrison.

Finally, long standing Rain member, Steve Landes delivers John Lennon in every way that masters the performance of a musical icon. Landes' portrayal of Lennon's assertive confidence, witty banter, silly stage moments, which includes Lennon's open jacket performance at Shea Stadium are small, intricate details which will impress even the pickiest Beatles fan critic. Landes' mastery of Lennon is known world wide, and you can see why.

The cake is the music. This is where the show distinctly betters itself from any other Beatles Tribute band I've ever seen. The magic man behind the Fab Four is Mark Beyer, who is the George Martin of the stage show, giving Rain its distinct studio sound, which is note for note like The Beatles albums. Beyer's backing strings, horns and studio manufactured sounds which the late George Martin used to revolutionized music, are the glue which ensures the integrity of the show. In many ways, Mark Beyer is the "Fifth Beatle" who might not receive the acknowledgement he rightly deserves.

The show starts with early classics like, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" "From Me To You" "She Loves You" "Twist and Shout" and one of my personal favourites, the ballad, "If I Fell", before transitioning to the Sgt. Pepper's Lone Hearts Club Band set, complete with wardrobe and instruments changes. There were at least 4 different eras Rain covers, and in between set and wardrobe changes, the audience is entertained by a video screen covering ads, and videos from the 60's which keep us immersed in the experience of the 60's all night.

The final 2 sets covered songs from the "White Album", and the "Let it Be" Album, before ending the show with the Abbey Road song, "The End" finishing the show with the immortal words, "And in the end, the Love you take, is equal to the Love, you make."


Rain returned for an encore and ended with, "Hey Jude." It was an interactive set, and had everyone on their feet singing and swaying with their hands in the air. Rain pumped the room full of magic, and the audience was left with every ounce of energy in the Beatles catalogue. Ultimately, the song and the show ended, but the experience Rain left me? Well, I won't forget that experience, ever.

Thank you Rain, for delivering a wonderful customer service experience in your tribute to The Beatles. You are icing and cake, in the dauntingly impossible task of replicating the world's most renown band. Well done!

                 Chuck Bastie backstage with Rain at the Princess of Wales Theatre in Toronto

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