Saturday, June 5, 2010

Beatles tribute band -- a great show

American English, which bills itself as "the complete Beatles tribute" band, performed a 2+-hour show Friday evening at the MacAllister Center for the Performing Arts in Garfield Park in Indianapolis. Since this place is a mere short stroll from my house, I had to go. But ... since the show was a gift from my kids, and since I really wanted to enjoy this, I decided not to bring my full camera gear. I took along only my pocket-sized Pentax Optio Z10, which while limiting my still image options, still allowed me to shoot video (which I did; see bottom of post).

I'd last seen a Beatles "tribute" band some 20+ years ago; it was at Clowes Hall on the Butler University campus. I remember it was a nice show, but ... well, you know, not the originals. The American English show was better than the one I saw in Clowes. I truly enjoyed it. The group had the Beatles nuances down perfectly. Eric Michaels, who carried out the Paul McCartney role, used a Hofner bass and not only played it left-handed like McCartney, but carried out Paul's inimitably melodic linear bass lines to the hilt. Young Hines did a nice John Lennon, and mimicked Lennon's double-leg semi-squat while facing square to the audience. And those complicated arrangements in the Beatles' later years were pulled off nicely, thanks in no small part to a keyboard assistant in the background. Tom Gable's drum strokes were perfectly "Ringoesque," and his vocals were similar to Starr's as well.

There were a few technical complications -- two that stand out were how the lead guitar licks of Doug Couture (as George) were often under-modulated (at least from my seat in the audience, which was front left), and the other being that, in numbers late in the show, Couture's guitar-playing (remember, Harrison was the lead guitarist) was significantly under-modulated in comparison to the rhythm licks of Young Hines (John), whose strumming was incredibly and clearly audible.

But if you could look past those two glitches, this was an absolutely wonderful trip down nostalgia lane. From the Beatles' "early years" tunes, American English played (and wore the black suits/ties to match) "Love Me Do," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "I Saw Her Standing There," "Please, Please Me," "Can't Buy Me Love," "Do You Want to Know a Secret," "Eight Days a Week," "Hard Days Night," "Yesterday," "I Should Have Known Better," "I Feel Fine," "Help!" "Norwegian Wood" and "Ticket to Ride" (and probably a few I'm not remembering).

American English did a wardrobe change to put on those bright, garish Sgt. Pepper outfits before performing "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "With a Little Help From My Friends," "A Day in the Life," "Magical Mystery Tour," "Yellow Submarine" and "Penny Lane" and undoubtedly a few others, though the titles escape me. The group made one more costume change -- to the "Abbey Road" album look (think long hair, George in dungarees and John in all white) -- after which they played "Come Together," "Octopus' Garden," "Here Comes the Sun" (although Couture did this as an acoustic solo), "Get Back" (a video from the band's performance of this song appears at the bottom of this post), "Dear Prudence," "Back in the U.S.S.R.," "Birthday" and "Revolution" before coming out for one encore, the crowd sing-along "Hey Jude."

People in Illinois are lucky; the band's schedule for the next two months is loaded with dates in our neighbor state to the west. The only other Indiana show in that period is July 31 in Wabash.

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