Rain – A Tribute to The Beatles
Providence Performing Arts Center
Providence, RI
February 20, 2019

Rain – A Tribute to the Beatles

Like most people, I never had a chance to see The Beatles perform live. I don’t come from the generation that remembers watching them make their debut on The Ed Sullivan Show. I’ve been lucky enough to see both surviving members, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, perform twice, but the world had already lost John Lennon years before I was born, so seeing The Beatles perform live was an experience I would never get. Tonight came just about as close to seeing the Fab Four as one could come, without the use of a time machine.

Perhaps, though, we did step into a time machine on this night. The curtain rose, and all of a sudden we were at the aforementioned Ed Sullivan Show performance. Mop tops, jackets and ties, the screaming crowd, visually, we were there. They started out with the classic hit, “She Loves You,” and immediately their faithfulness to the music of The Beatles was obvious.

Rain – A Tribute to the Beatles

After a few songs from The Ed Sullivan show era, “Paul” was solo on the stage with an acoustic guitar, as he performed “Yesterday.” He finished the song, the stage went black, and all of a sudden, it’s 1965, and we’re at Shea stadium. The Beatles, wearing their matching tan jackets, with a crowd of more than 50,000 people on the screen, cheering the band on. Songs like “Ticket to Ride,” “Day Tripper,” and “Twist and Shout” marked this era of The Beatles. Paul, John and George have all had their moments singing lead, each giving a great performance representative of their member of The Beatles. Ringo did not sing during the first set, but he mannerisms so perfectly created the feel of the real Ringo Starr.

Just as quickly as we were in Shea Stadium, we were out of it. The stage took on more of a hippie vibe, as the screens showed floor-to-ceiling lava lamps, and the members of Rain had a more relaxed vibe, as well as some longer hair. We heard songs off Revolver and Rubber Soul such as “Eleanor Rigby” and “Nowhere Man.”

Their first set finished off with a pair of songs from the self titled White Album, “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The latter of the two songs started out as an acoustic performance, but as they reached the first solo of the song, Ringo joined in, and George ripped away on his Les Paul. The song continued on in the style of the album version, and George brought the entire audience to their feet cheering at the end of his guitar solo.

At this point, the band took a brief intermission. When they came back, they were celebrating all things Sgt. Pepper. They didn’t play the whole album, but they played a significant amount of it. It was during this where we saw the sole Ringo vocal performance of the night, with “A Little Help From My Friends.” Some highlights from the Sgt. Pepper material was “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite” and “A Day in the Life.”

Rain – A Tribute to the Beatles

After the abridged version of Sgt. Pepper, we got an abridged version of Abbey Road. While I would have to hear “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” we didn’t get that, but in addition to songs like “Come Together” and “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer,” Rain played the full medley from the b-side of the album.

After “The End,” the band left the stage, before coming back out for a final encore of “Hey Jude.”

Rain’s performance truly was the most impressive tribute to the Beatles I’ve ever seen. At the start of the show, an announcement played stating that all music played was being performed live, and that nothing was pre-recorded. Part of what made the setlist so enjoyable, was that they played material that the Beatles never performed live. The later half of the Beatle’s career was all about making albums, with songs that were overly complex and not able to be performed live faithfully. The four musicians of Rain, plus an additional keyboard player, found a way to faithfully make these songs happen.

Sometimes living in Rhode Island can feel like a forgotten state. Many shows come through New York or Boston, without ever stopping in The Ocean State. It’s great that the team at the PPAC brings in great shows like this!

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