Preview: Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles sweeping into OKC with 'Abbey Road' anniversary homage
An abbreviated version of this story appears in Friday's Weekend Life section of The Oklahoman.
Tribute act Rain showers Beatles' fans in musical nostalgia
On the Beatles’ midtempo rocker “Rain,” John Lennon croons “I can show you / That when it starts to rain / Everything's the same.”
Regardless of weather, when Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles brings its crowd-pleasing nostalgia trip to Oklahoma City for three shows Friday and Saturday at the Civic Center, everything won’t be quite the same. But founder and manager Mark Lewis predicted Fab Four fans will be pleased with the caliber of the musicianship, performances and production.
“Let’s face it, you’re not gonna see the Beatles live. Even if they all were still alive today, you wouldn’t see them touring … in a theater that holds 2,000 people a show,” said Lewis, who was Rain’s original keyboardist.
“When you watch the show, if you let your mind go a little bit, you’re gonna fantasize that you’re actually seeing the Beatles perform. … It’s the difference in the top-quality, professional, top-tier of what we do.”
Presented locally by OKC Broadway, Rain, which takes its name from the B-side of the Beatles’ 1966 hit “Paperback Writer,” is one of the oldest and most successful tribute acts celebrating one of the most celebrated bands of all time. Since starting out playing clubs in 1975 in California, the band formerly known as Reign has taken its Beatles homage to Broadway for 10 months, gone on numerous successful tours and last year played Madison Square Garden.
“It was kind of like a fluke, really. We loved doing the Beatles, and we did a lot of Beatles in our show. Then, we dedicated a set to the Beatles, and we started to get a following around Los Angeles of Beatles fans. So, we decided to give a shot of doing ‘A Night of Beatles’ at some nightclubs around L.A. and Orange County. They promoted it, and a lot of people showed up and we got a great response. And they wanted us back. The next thing you know, another club wants you, then an agent gets involved. Then, you get a booking and more bookings, and you decide to make it a little bit more of a show. You put together some similar suits or costumes to give it a look, and it just sort of evolved,” Lewis said.
“If you had come to me in the mid-1970s and said, ‘This’ll still be going into 2020,’ I’d say, ‘You’re crazy.’”
Rain performs the legendary foursome’s greatest hits in a note-for-note theatrical event, following a roughly chronological history of the Beatles. The musicians closely emulate the garb, hairstyles and overall look of Lennon (Steve Landes), Paul McCartney (Paul Curatolo), George Harrison (Alastar McNeil) and Ringo Starr (Aaron Chiazza), while video footage, lighting and other effects help to set the time and place.
‘Abbey Road’ anniversary
Although the Fab Four broke up almost a half-century ago, Lewis said keeping Rain fresh is vital. The tribute group is currently touring with “The Best of Abbey Road Live!” in celebration of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the September 1969 release of the Beatles’ iconic 11th studio album.
“Fans that come down still want to see a lot of the early Beatles and ‘Rubber Soul’ and ‘Revolver’ and ‘Sgt. Pepper.’ We try to give them a little of everything, but we’re devoting a large section in the second half of our show to the ‘Abbey Road’ album this year, and that’s what’s kind of the new thing,” he said.
“What I remember when I got the ‘Abbey Road’ album and first listened to it was how the second side was like one long song just about, how one song led into another song led into another song. It was absolutely amazing, I had never heard a band do that before, ever. And we do that live.”
That includes recreating the trippy "Because,” featuring Lennon, McCartney and Harrison's trademark triple-tracked three-part harmonies, which Lewis predicted would win over any doubters in the OKC audience.
“When I was in the band … it was the most fun I’d have on stage to do all of Side 2 of ‘Abbey Road’ – and the most challenging. And I’m sure the band we have now, the guys up there feel the same way. They put in a lot of work, and they absolutely nail it,” he said. “I mean, you close your eyes, you’re listening to the Beatles.”
Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles
When: 8 p.m. Friday and 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Civic Center Music Hall, 201 N Walker.
Tickets and information: www.okcbroadway.com or 594-8300.