The Fab Four put on a wonderful show Saturday night at the House of Blues, filled with many solid performances and surprises. The show was in honor of the 37th anniversary of “A Hard Day’s Night,” and thus the night’s festivities were focused primarily on that film’s music, with a few nods to The Beatles’ other films, as well as a number of out of the ordinary numbers.
The first set had been promised to deliver the entire “A Hard Day’s Night” LP, and while the Fabs didn’t perform the LP in order, each and every one of the stellar 13 tracks was played. The night opened with the double whammy of “A Hard Day’s Night” which dovetailed into “I Should Have Known Better,” as it does on the record. This continued with the next two tracks on the album, the stunning “If I Fell” and the earnest George-sung rocker “I’m Happy Just To Dance With You,” which was perhaps the first real highlight of the night. The merciless onslaught of “Night” material continued in random order and was a testament to how incredibly strong the 1964 LP was: “Tell Me Why,” “You Can’t Do That” and “Anytime At All” were all delivered expertly, as was the next real highlight of the night, the superb “I’ll Cry Instead.” Of particular note during this performance were the breakdowns, where Paul (Ardy Sarraf) plucked out the thudding, descending bass line while holding the bass upright and John (Ron McNeil) sang the line “I’ll show you what your loving man can do.” A real treat for all in attendance. Next came the haunting Paul piece “Things We Said Today,” one of Paul’s most achingly sincere early songs. Of particular note was John’s strident strumming of an acoustic guitar, much like in the original. During one of Paul’s “things we said today” lines, he chose to forego this and instead invited everyone in the audience to scream, which was a real surprise and a welcome one in the audience, greeted with enthusiastic replies. The Fabs ended the song tastefully on a minor 7th chord, which was also another true surprise. After this was the incredibly stunning “I’ll Be Back,” followed by the rocking “Can’t Buy Me Love,” which is a standard at pretty much every Fab Four show. After this the Fabs went into a beautifully thoughtful rendition of “And I Love Her,” even going so far as to emulate the positions of The Beatles from the film “A Hard Day’s Night”: John seated while strumming an acoustic guitar, George (Michael Amador) standing with one leg on the drum riser, playing a classical, nylon string guitar. The result was thrilling. At this point, The Fabs chose to throw in a few surprising b-sides from 1964, both from the “Long Tall Sally” EP. First was the Carl Perkins rocker “Matchbox,” which featured a great lead vocal from Ringo (Rolo Sandoval). After this, Paul commented “we’ve never performed this next song before” to which John replied “that makes us virgins or something.” The next song was the howling “When I Get Home,” which seemed surprisingly tight for a premiere performance. Next came the second b-side from the “Sally” EP, the raucous “Slow Down,” which had many people on the floor dancing along, as well as emulating John’s screams and silly bi-labial fricatives. The set closed with a number that was in the “A Hard Day’s Night” film but not on the LP (as it had appeared the previous year on “Please Please Me”), “She Loves You,” another Fab Four standard.
As the Fabs emerged for the second set in the usual “Sgt. Pepper” costumes, they threw a real curveball at the audience, the wonderful and long clamored for “Hello Goodbye.” The performance hearkened the promotional clip for the song, where The Beatles also performed in the “Pepper” suits at London’s Saville Theater. The song ended with the famous “maori finale” and went back into the instrumental section for the “you say goodbye, I say hello” part, which was a nice touch. All in all, a true highlight of the evening and hopefully a song that will become a staple of the Fab Four’s live performances. After this came the obligatory “Sgt. Pepper” which segues into Ringo’s “With A Little Help From My Friends,” which never fails to charm and captivate the crowd. And though the next song was yet another Fab Four standard – “Day Tripper” – the instrumentation was unusually very tight and fierce, making it undeniably one of the highlights of the evening. Up next were two songs which appeared on the U.S. “Magical Mystery Tour” LP, the fabulous a and b-sides of “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever.” After this came another rarely performed number, the Lennon rocker from the “Yellow Submarine” film, “Hey Bulldog,” which is always received enthusiastically whenever performed. Up next was a bizarre treat, the “Revolver” album track “Good Day Sunshine,” “because this is California.” The jaunty piano and fine vocal harmonies made this a standout performance. The “Revolver” theme continued with two more from that album that had also appeared in the “Yellow Submarine” film: the exquisite “Eleanor Rigby” – which is always astounding, since the band pulls it off without the aid of a string quartet - and the raucous “Yellow Submarine.” Of particular note tonight was John’s fish hand movement and bubbling noises into the mic during the last chorus, something he doesn’t always do. And yet another song from the popular “Revolver” album followed, the peerless Paul rocker “Got To Get You Into My Life,” which never fails to get the audience clapping along and even “raising the roof” in some circles. The set was concluded with the “Sgt. Pepper Reprise” which segues into the captivating “A Day In The Life,” which had many on the floor screaming during the orchestral rave-ups.
The third set began on a surprising note, with John’s “Come Together,” which is usually performed a few songs into the third set. But the real focus of the festivities was on Paul’s great new wig, a little bit longer in back and looking much like his hairdo for the “Abbey Road” LP. “The mullet is in full effect!” claimed Les Salva, one of The Fab Four’s most dedicated fans (though I couldn’t help but liken the new wig to an early ‘80s Joyce DeWitt from “Three’s Company”). Up next was the countrified rocker “Get Back” which always gets the audience clapping along, followed by the incredible “Here Comes The Sun,” a number always executed to perfection with effortless flair by Michael Amador. “You wanna hear another track from the white album?” asked Paul, which received an enthusiastic reaction from the crowd. The Fabs went into the dancy “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” which thrilled many of the onlookers in the crowd. This was followed by John’s tender “Imagine.” While introducing “Imagine,” a patron yelled “I love you John!” to which John stoically replied “peace brother,” which had many in the audience chuckling. Ringo’s “Octopus’s Garden” came next, highlights of which are always George’s peerless guitar playing and Paul and John’s vocal emulation of the underwater sound effects in the bridge. Up next was a triple whammy of rarely performed treats. First off was one that is clamored for at nearly every show, Paul’s throat-chokingly brilliant “Oh! Darling.” Ardy Sarraf’s incredible vocal stylings on this number always give those in attendance goose bumps. As if that wasn’t enough, up next was “one from the rooftop,” the incredible John ballad “Don’t Let Me Down,” which visibly had several in the audience jumping up and down for joy. Ron McNeil’s performance in this piece is always thrilling, right down to the chilling “can you dig it!” in the last chorus. Up next was the most bizarre choice of the entire evening. Ringo fooled about on his drums for a bit, then finally launched into a proper intro, as Paul began the coarse, bluesy vocals of “Why Don’t We Do It In The Road.” Rarely performed – if ever – this was probably the last song one would expect to hear at a Fab Four show, and for that reason was quite a treat. Ardy’s vocals were thrilling, particularly on the falsetto line in the third verse. Up next was the ever-rocking “Birthday,” during which one of the patrons was invited on stage to play tambourine and sing along (John dryly commented “that could be a liability or sumthin’”). After this, John began his usual spiel about how “we all want a change, and a change for the good,” but was greeted by some curious feedback on the left side of the stage. For some reason, this inspired George to start playing the opening guitar line to Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train,” with Ringo following along on drums. Some in the audience chose to scream out the familiar “Aye! Aye! Aye!”, which made for one of the most hilarious moments of the evening. The Fabs concluded the set with the always stunning “Revolution” and bid the audience goodnight.
Returning quickly for an encore, the Fabs went into the always thrilling and majestic “Golden Slumbers” medley. One simply can’t get enough of this thrillingly ornate, yet uncompromisingly rocking medley, which isn’t performed all that often. After the “and in the end” line tonight, it’s evident that George’s little guitar lick was echoed, much like it is on the record, which made for a very nice touch. Afterwards, the band took their “less Paul” joke to new heights. As Paul commented on George’s Les Paul guitar, and George commented “but what we need is less Paul and more George!” he followed this up with the wildly enthusiastic “and I think they all agree!” which was quite over the top and very funny. Another clever moment came when Ron McNeil introduced Ardy Sarraf as David Cassidy – because of his new wig – and Ardy began singing “I Think I Love You.” The show closed with the anthemic “Hey Jude,” once again sporting the marvelous addition of the orchestral coda on keyboard by Michael Amador.
The Fab Four provided a wonderful night of entertainment for all in attendance at the House of Blues. While the show may have lacked the all-encompassing theme of the “McCartney Birthday Bash” in June, the show was equally as thrilling, with its inclusion of the entire “A Hard Day’s Night” LP, as well as the numerous surprise performances, the likes of which one will no doubt encounter at any Fab Four show.
This article originally
appeared on The Fab Four 2000 (www.tff2k.com). It is reprinted
by kind permission.
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