More than three decades after the Beatles broke up, hundreds of tribute bands attempt to recreate the excitement. Rain succeeds brilliantly. On February 20 and 21, 2005, at the Ottawa National Arts Centre, a venue that would hardly have welcomed the fab four, Rain delighted packed houses.
In the world of classical music, the great works are performed for centuries. In the world of pop music, such phenomena were rare – until recently. Tribute bands recreate some of the great rock bands of the 60’s and 70’s including Pink Floyd and U2. The unique growing popularity of the Beatles, as successive generations meet their music, could ensure that Rain, which has been performing for 20 years, could continue a while yet and be succeeded by others, keeping the Beatles experience available.
Beatles songs are not easy to play well. The sophisticated harmonies demand significant fretboard dexterity. The rhythms and drum patterns are instantly recognizable. The solid assurance of Rain as they play note-perfect renditions of even the most sophisticated songs is awesome to hear – and see. There are no pre-recordings used in Rain's performance; every note is created live on stage. As the band starts its second set in the uniforms of Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, the audience realizes they are seeing something that the Beatles themselves never attempted, and are beyond the capabilities of other tribute bands. Rain’s five musicians are not average. They are superb at what they do. And they can play every single Beatles song – though not all on one night. In fact they must have played them many more times than the Beatles did.
After twenty years, you might have thought that playing the same repertoire would become tedious. Yet Steve Landes, the John Lennon, insisted when we met him after the show that they never tire of playing this music; indeed they still do it because they love playing the songs so much. That bodes well for the rest of us; I guess we’ll be singing them for the rest of our lives.
One difference that this concert had from others is that when the microphone was turned to the audience to sing, for example in Hey Jude, they were louder than the band! They were also up on their feet, even sometimes in the balcony. I never saw the Beatles live, but I feel I have now experienced the same emotions as I would have had I done so.
The whole thing cemented once again in our minds just how great the Beatles were. Although the audience had all ages, most were 40+, and I will guess had long since ceased following the popular music scene. They were there to see and hear the music of a band like none other, and they wouldn’t have been there to see any other. For two sweet hours we had beamed up into Pepperland, and the Yellow Submarine took us on the cruise of a lifetime.
The Ottawa Beatles Site acknow -ledges the kindness of Rain in inviting us to meet them after the show, and allowing us to include photos from www.raintribute.com on this page. We salute your leadership in keeping the dream alive, Steve, Joey, Joe, Ralph, and Mark.
Ralph Castelli Web