After a hot day, I thought I’d take a trip with my dad down to the city to catch RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles. My dad and I are huge Beatles fans and have seen most of the Beatles tribute bands that have come to Chicago. I’ve heard of RAIN before, but I found out they were recently on PBS performing from their concert. My dad caught it when it was on, and said it was outstanding. Steve Landes (John Lennon), Joey Curatolo (Paul McCartney, and he looks and sounds JUST like him!), Joe Bithorn (George Harrison) and Ralph Castelli (Ringo Starr) were the stars of RAIN on PBS. What we got last night was NOT them ufortunately. I was very disappointed.
What we got were Tom Teeley (George Harrison), Douglas Cox (Ringo Starr), Jim Irizarry (John Lennon) and Mac Ruffing (Paul McCartney). After watching the PBS special, I was recently excited to see the guys perform live. Instead, when I got there, alas it was not them. I was really not a fan of Mac Ruffing at all. I don’t think he sounded like Paul McCartney at all. In fact, he sounded like a chipmunk in his high register. Jim Irizarry was pretty bad for the first half as John Lennon. He even cracked at one point during “A Day in the Life.” Douglas Cox really didn’t bother me at all actually. He did a really nice version of “With A Little Help from My Friends,” and throughout the night was an excellent drummer. Even though he’s not Castelli, he did a very nice job. As mentioned earlier with Irizarry as Lennon, I mentioned that he was pretty bad for the first half. For the second half he was really good, and started to sound like Lennon a little bit more and more. Some key songs that he did really well on were “I Am the Walrus,” “Come Together,” “Twist and Shout” and “Revolution.” Mac Ruffing did not do anything for me however. I appreciate him “trying” to sound like Paul but he didn’t do it very well, especially in songs like “Yesterday” and “Eleanor Rigby.” Key props though to the keyboardist Mark Beyer, who is hidden in the back throughout the whole show and deserves more credit than the rest.
Another disappointing reason why I did not like this show is because before the show, there were 2 screens, one on each side that was giving facts about the Beatles and their background. One question they asked was which 2 members of the Beatles were left-handed. The answers were Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney. In this show, Ruffing did not play the guitar left-handed like Paul. He did play the bass lefty though, but he should’ve stuck with it throughout.
RAIN has an interesting concept to their show. They went through all eras of The Beatles from their premiere in 1964, to 1969, then through the 70’s Let it Be era. At one point during the show, they did a couple songs acoustic. Irizarry sang “Girl” and “In My Life,” and the best song of the whole night was “I’ve Just Seen a Face” with a killer guitar solo by Teeley.
Throughout the show, when the guys were transitioning sets, the screens on the side of the stage would show classic commercials from the 60’s and 70’s like the old Flintstones commercial when they influenced smoking. I was shocked they had some of these commercials. It really added a cool element to the show.
Overall, it was an ok show. I can tell you it was not my favorite. The only one who looked completely like a Beatles was Teeley as George Harrison. It helps that he played George in the movie Beatlemania the Movie, where all the original members and some of these members derived from. If you like Beatles music, then you might like this show more than me. I just wanted to see the originals. I’ve seen The Fab Four and American English and some other ones, and I have to say The Fab Four gets my vote as the best Beatles tribute band in the country.
RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles is playing at The Oriental Theatre (24 West Randolph Street) through July 1. Performances are as follows:
Wednesday,Thursday,Friday and Sunday evenings at 7:30 p.m.,Saturday evening at 8 p.m., matinees are Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m.
Tickets range from $25-$75 and can be purchased at any of the Broadway In Chicago box offices,The Broadway In Chicago Ticketline at 800-775-2000, all Ticketmaster outlets and online at www.BroadwayInChicago.com
To see more about this show, visit the RAIN page at www.theatreinchicago.com
Reviewed by Kevin Pollack on 6/27/12