Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's RAIN-ing Beatles at the Pantages!

Joey Curatolo (Paul), Joe Bithorn (George), Ralph Castelli (Ringo) and Steve Landes (John) Photos: Joan Marcus

The British invasion returns to Hollywood this week and Beatles fans are in heaven as RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles plays the Pantages Theatre for five days only through April 17th. If last night’s sellout performance was any indication of the popularity of this tribute concert, you better run to get any remaining tickets that are available. The show is two hours of some of the best music ever written by four lads whose songs defined the social and cultural revolutions of a generation.

RAIN covers everything from the Beatles’ appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show and 1965 concert at Shea Stadium, through their Abbey Road album, including the psychedelic 60’s, their rooftop concert and the best of everything in between. Part of the fun is hearing the first few notes of a song’s intro and listening to the crowd swell as they realize what is coming next.

And it’s a great set list: I Wanna Hold Your Hand, All My Lovin’, Hard Day’s Night, Yesterday, Day Tripper, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, With a Little Help From My Friends, Eleanor Rigby, Strawberry Fields, When I’m 64, Lucky Man, I Am the Walrus, Girl, We Can Work It Out, and so many other great songs.

There are plenty of moments to sing along, get on your feet, and find yourself picked up by the cameras on the giant screens on either side of the stage. The decidedly retro feel of the production uses vintage commercials and plenty of mind-bending graphics to enhance the onstage music. It all comes together beautifully.

I spoke to the couple who sat next to me and they said they had seen RAIN when it played the Pantages in 2009 and loved it so much that when they heard it was coming back, they jumped on the chance to get tickets. The look on their shining faces said this concert was everything they hoped it would be and more.

I suggest you check it out and see for yourself. If you grew up with the Beatles it will bring back all your memories of hearing the songs for the first time (they did define so much of our youth), and if you are just now discovering them, you’re in for a fantastic night.

It’s uncanny how much the band looks and sounds like the thing. RAIN began in the 70’s when keyboardist Mark Lewis and four local musicians formed a Beatles tribute band called “Reign” playing around Los Angeles and Orange County. Following numerous misspellings in the media and advertising they changed their name to RAIN (also the title of a 1966 Beatles single) and continued to develop their show, paying strict attention to perform the songs note-for-note like the recordings.

Lewis and the four other founding members of RAIN who are taking a one week break from their Broadway run in New York City to appear at the Pantages are Joey Curatolo (Paul McCartney), Joe Bithorn (George Harrison), Ralph Castelli (Ringo Starr) and Steve Landes (John Lennon). Much like the original Beatles were a perfect alignment of talent, timing, and musical exploration, so too are the musicians of RAIN as they recreate a live performance that will have you screaming in the aisles. By the time they reach the very moving encore - Let It Be, Imagine, and Hey Jude - you’ll have come full circle.

RAIN only plays through April 17 so get your tickets now at  

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