by MIKE CHAIKEN
The temptation exists that every time the name of The Beatles, in the past tense, is invoked, someone is going to get serious.
Music aficionados will speak about how The Beatles changed the face of rock ‘n’ roll. They’ll talk about the band’s compositional skills. They’ll speak about the group’s expansion of the capabilities of the recording studio. They’ll talk about The Beatles’ cultural significance, transforming the youth of the nation.
But in the midst of all that serious conversation, we sometimes forget one of the most important dimensions of The Beatles.
They were fun.
That’s where a group like Rain, which performed at the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino on April 22, helps redirect the focus on The Beatles. They remind us that one of the reasons The Beatles were so popular when they arrived on the American shores was they were fun.
After all, there were other bands of that period that pushed boundaries of music. The Pretty Things, their British peers, are credited with writing the first rock opera with “S.F. Sorrow.” Procol Harum invoked classical melodies in songs like “A White Shade of Pale.” The Kinks set the stage for heavy metal and provided social commentary.
But The Beatles made us smile.
And that’s what Rain did.
Even when they played The Beatles’ magnum opus, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” from beginning to end, they did not approach it like an orchestra tackling Bach. They provided the same smiles and smirks the Beatles clearly had when they wrote such fun tracks as, “When I’m 64,” “For the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” and “Good Morning.”
Rain clearly has reverence for the accomplishments of The Beatles. After all, rather than reworking the songs with new arrangements, it’s clear that their arrangements are as close to possible to the originals. The technology of the 21st century clearly has aided in their ability to perform “Sgt. Pepper” as the band intended. “A Day in the Life” and “Within and Without You” clearly are songs the Beatles could never do on the stage of Shea Stadium with just two guitars, a bass, and a drum.
But even when Rain took us back to the early British invasion days, the group reminded us why we had so much fun hearing the Fab Four croon, “She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah” and “I wanna hold your hand… woooh!”
Also what makes Rain more exciting then some tribute shows is that it is a “Show.” They were just four guys (well actually five) on a stage in costume. The group effectively uses LED projection screens to provide context and color to the music of The Beatles. They also provide a banter that is reminiscent of the Beatles, without feeling scripted.
Whether or not you were watching when The Beatles stepped onto the stage at “The Ed Sullivan Show” or you discovered The Beatles in your grandparents’ record collection, Rain provided a great lesson in why the music of the Fab Four lives on and on and on.
I give Rain at the Fox Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino on April 22 four out of four stars.