Meeting the Beatles -- again

Tribute show packs in crowd of fans and newcomers to fold

music review

April 09, 2008|By MARY JOHNSON | MARY JOHNSON,Special to The Sun

The South County Community Concert Association closed its season with a concert that rocked the walls of the Southern High School auditorium.

Revolution: The Beatles Tribute packed in a large audience, some of whom were major Beatles fans while others concluded they were fans only when they realized how many of the songs they knew.

"I loved seeing the joyful response to familiar Beatles music that the performers played and sang so capably. It seemed we were really hearing the Beatles play and appreciated the music even more from hindsight," said longtime SCCA volunteer Betty Knupp. "I noticed how silent the audience was during selections like `Imagine' with its dreamed message of peace. And the next moment they were standing and swaying hands and bodies -- fun to see. The performers did a terrific job involving and energizing the audience. This concert was a spontaneous and joyful happening."

Although other groups perform Beatles hits, this is a unique group of serious musicians, not mere imitators. As played by Revolution -- Greg Piper as George Harrison on lead guitar, Les Perez as drummer Ringo Starr, Tim Piper on guitar and keyboard as John Lennon, and Jim Neil as Paul McCartney on bass -- the music became all it is meant to be in our era.

The concert began with a recreation of the famous 1964 Ed Sullivan television show introducing the Fab Four to American audiences and ushering in Beatlemania. When asked how many remembered the Sullivan broadcast, there was a large show of hands from people in the audience.

An opera lover, I am a bit late to appreciate Beatles music, understanding its appeal only after hearing Metropolitan Opera tenor Jan Pearce sing "And I Love Her," a revelation in its simple melodic beauty. And the Beatles show "Love" at the Mirage in Las Vegas was my favorite among 10 shows covered last summer during an American Theatre Critics Association conference. This Cirque du Soleil production features original mono recordings transferred into a more than 60-channel sound that surrounds the audience. No lesser authorities than Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney have agreed the music sounded better than ever.

What we heard at South County was Beatles music revisited and interpreted brightly and lovingly by talented musicians. Maybe the over-simplicity that rock critics accused the Beatles music of is what makes it endure along with its joyous innocence. It is music that celebrates discovery and life.

It was startling to see Tim Piper, who sounds and looks like Lennon and exhibits a similar quiet charm. When he appeared in a white suit, his hair long and straight, to sit at the keyboard and play "Imagine," the mood became a compelling moment of universal truth spoken anew.

Encouraged to stand and stretch near the end of the first half, some in the audience joyously danced near the stage. Later they rose again to move their arms in rhythm to "Hey Jude," to create an enormous musical wave -- a rarely witnessed defining moment in concertgoing.

Those who missed this concert can catch another performance when the Performing Arts Association of Linthicum hosts Revolution at 3 p.m. Sunday at Chesapeake Arts Center in Brooklyn Park. Tickets are available at 410-636-6597 or www.chesapeakearts.org.

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