I didn’t like The Beatles at first, and invariably demonstrated my disgust at the ‘old people’s music’ when, on a lazy Sunday afternoon or on a road trip somewhere, my parents would pop that familiar cassette into the tape deck.
But there’s no denying their massive influence and over time I grew to appreciate this still hugely popular band. Excited at the prospect of a Beatles tribute I took my mom along to the Roxy Revue Bar for a night of nostalgia and perhaps a little glimpse into the phenomenon that was Beatlemania.
For those who haven’t been to the Roxy, it is a warm, intimate little theatre and a good setting for a musical tribute. Music from the sixties warmed up the crowd as we were taking our seats – a thoughtful detail.
The band didn’t start off too badly, looking the part in matching suits and Beatles hairstyles. And you can’t go too far wrong with popular sing-alongs such as She Loves You, Can’t Buy Me Love and From Me to You. In fact one of the joys of the Beatles songs is the very simplicity of their chords but I gradually began to doubt that the bassist was actually playing his guitar. At this I lost a little faith and I began to scrutinize harder to check if they were lip-synching. Happily they weren’t. In fact, their voices were rather good, all of them harmonising and singing nicely in key. Between songs snippets of Beatles history were shown in documentary form adding a further dimension to the performance.
Stepping into the shoes of a great band is no easy feat, and those who dare take on such a project had better be sure that their performance is exceptional. On this front, I’m afraid, this tribute missed the mark. That sounds cruel – they were far from terrible, but they simply weren’t as outstanding as I longed for them to be. Sure, there were a few moments where we were pleasantly surprised, notably vocalist Candice Malander-Thorne’s jazz interpretation of Here Comes the Sun and guitarist Albert du Toit’s rendition of While my Guitar Gently Weeps, but in general the whole affair was not much better than the winning group from a suburban talent competition.
To be fair, it was opening night, so perhaps they were still in rehearsal mode. Also, it was newcomer Chad Zerf’s first time ever on stage and I’m sure that with time the palpable nerves and rough edges will be smoothed out.
But all in all, the evening got me thinking that tributes can be rather a waste of time. No cover band, however brilliant, can hope to capture the essence of the musical greats they are emulating, even if they should contact Rent-a-Crowd for a seething mass of screaming groupies to hurl themselves at the stage in a bid to recreate the atmosphere. This tribute is a pleasant evening out in a great little venue but if you are hoping to see a carbon copy of The Beatles rather stay at home, dust off those vinyls, and listen to the legends as they should be remembered.
All You Need is Love runs at the Roxy Revue Bar 3 February to 17 March 2012.