Fifty Years Ago Tribute to the Beatles Brings a Magical Show to Clearwater
I have told this story before, got my first Beatle record at five years old. My dad bought me a 45 rpm of ”A Hard Day’s Night”. I loved it even though I didn’t know who the Beatles were at five. Over the years I have become a big Beatles fan and as an older adult, I have come to really appreciate them in a much more intellectual way of their musical progression over time. It was 50 Years Ago Today Tribute to Rubber Soul and Revolver takes us to the Fab Four time period of the mid-sixties. Rubber Soul was recorded in 1965 & Revolver in 1966. Both records are on the Rolling Stone Greatest 500 Albums of All Time.
This trip down memory lane has some of the best musicians of any time paying homage to the rock and roll band that started it all. Todd Rundgren, is one of music’s greatest innovators and a well-known Beatles fan himself, having recorded Beatles tunes and done couple of tribute shows, including an “A Walk Down Abbey Road” in 2001. Jason Scheff, bassist and former lead singer for Chicago from 1985 -2016, is an incredibly accomplished as a songwriter and producer as well as a vocalist. Jason’s dad was the bass player in Elvis’ band. Christopher Cross, who won 3 Grammy’s for his hit “Sailing” is also an accomplished guitarist who toured on the Beatles “White Album Tribute”. Joey Molland is the sole living member of the original British band Badfinger. There’s a Todd connection here, as he produced Badfinger’s “Straight Up” album in 1971, which was on the Beatle’s Apple label. Joey also worked with George Harrison and on John Lennon’s “Imagine” album. Last but not least is Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Denny Laine, who founded the Moody Blues and with Paul and Linda McCartney started Wings. An amazing pedigree of musicians to cover the Beatles!
Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall was nearly sold-out and the crowd was up for this show. Beatles t-shirts and jackets were everywhere. The opening number with the entire line-up on stage was “Drive My Car” and “Taxman”. The setlist is not in any particular order of the albums since each artist is performing songs of their own. Christopher Cross bought his vocals to “Eleanor Rigby” and “Here, There and Everywhere” which was beautiful with great harmonies by Rundgren, Scheff and Laine. Denny Laine had the audience out of their seats with the 1973 hit by Wings, “Band on the Run”! These musicians know whose voice works the best on these tunes and harmonies are well thought out. Joey brings Badfinger to life with “No Matter What” and “Baby Blue” bringing Todd on board with his “Foamy” guitar to rock the songs.
More Beatles come our way with Jason and Todd on the upbeat “Good Day Sunshine” and a solo from Todd with Lennon’s “In My Life”, Rundgren’s vocals are stellar at age 73! “Ride Like the Wind”, the first hit that “started it all” for Cross sounded fresh and of course, “Sailing” in a Florida show is a favorite. Jason Scheff has a couple of “Chicago” songs in his set and slides from bass to hits the keys for the ballad “Hard to Say I’m Sorry”. One of the showstoppers of this show is “25 or 6 to 4”! Scheff’s vocals are amazing and the entire band is on fire, Scheff and Rundgren are exchanging riffs of guitar and bass like wild men. Rundgren makes a comment on the Gov. Ron DeSantis Gay Bill which get some laughs and some boo’s but the show goes on without incident. “I Saw the Light” and “Hello It’s Me” from Todd’s catalog have this crowd up and singing along. Todd covers the psychedelic “Tomorrow Never Knows” from the Revolver album. Lighting and graphics of this show are perfect to the time period and moods of the music. Denny Laine takes lead on “Doctor Robert”, John Lennon’s reference to elicit drugs. “Nowhere Man” with Jason, Christopher Cross and Denny meshes nicely. The encore “Yellow Submarine” from Revolver which is a Ringo lead vocal makes for a great audience sing-along to end the show. If you are a Beatles fan or a fan of any of these fab musicians, you should make a mad dash to see this show. This is not your average tribute show; it is one of the best tribute bands to take on the iconic Beatles!
Vicky Sullivan Photos