Into everyone’s life, Rain should fall — at least once in your life. The long-running tribute to the Beatles showed why they among all others reign as the toppermost of the poppermost of Fab Four salutes with a redesigned multimedia show before about 1,650 fans at the Warner Theatre on Thursday.
The presentation was totally upgraded from the last time Rain played. A video screen behind the band, as well as a few side ones, displayed short films, cartoons, crowd footage, live shots of the band and imaginative animation that augmented most the songs. Along with newsreel clips, ancient commercials (The Flintstones for Winston — really?) and backdrops of Shea Stadium, Rain plunged you into 1960s in a fun, involving way.
The “Eleanor Rigby” video was particularly Python-esque; others were just trippy fun with giant lava lamps, melting colors and huge horse heads.
Crazy stuff, but all the visual support put the Beatles within the context of the times and also kept the focus off the band, in a way. Rain is about celebrating Beatles’ music; it’s not about celebrating Rain. So the music, of course, ultimately takes center stage and on that front Rain can do no wrong. They could play four nights in a row without repeating a song and every one would be compelling. No band ever had a better batting average than the Beatles; they raised the bar to a level no one can match.
Rain played the early, Beatlemania songs with uncanny accuracy. They deviated a bit on some latter-day songs — notably “While My Guitar Gentle Weeps” and “Strawberry Fields Forever,” which featured clipped phrasing from Steve Landes that dulled the song’s dreamy nature. Rain also cut off “Magical Mystery Tour” before the climax…and I really wanted to hear that; it’s the best part of the song.
Those are small quibbles, though. Paul Curatalo, in particular, shined as Paul with impeccable vocals and mannerisms, including the cheery smile and head tilting. And, yes, he played bass left-handed. Douglas Cox’s drums were turned up in the mix, but he locked in as Ringo. Tom Teeley, as George, was suitably reserved for the most part, but woke up to pull off an electrifying “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” solo that inspired a standing ovation. Landes came through on “In My Life,” one of Lennon’s best songs, and a spectacular “Help.” Rain’s sparkling harmonies were spot-on throughout the night, and they’re not easy to pull off. Keyboard Chris Smallwood was indispensable behind the keys, triggering horns and special effects, as needed, for “All You Need Is Love,” “Sgt. Pepper,” a masterful “A Day in the Life” and others.
All in all, Rain passed the audition — again. This was Rain’s fourth trip to Erie, perhaps accounting for a smaller than usual crowd. But the beefed-up production and new set list — they played quite a few different songs than last time — made it perhaps their trip yet.
The show made me marvel at the Beatles’ magical artistry and collective chemistry all over again. When I got home, I couldn’t decide which album to pull out first and start blasting. I had to hear more.
That’s the point, right?
Here’s the set list.
1. “She Loves You”
2. “Please Please Me”
3. “From Me To You”
4. “I Want to Hold Your Hand”
5. “A Hard Day’s Night”
6. “I’m So Happy Just to Dance With You”
10. “Twist & Shout”
11. “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”
12. “With A Little Help From My Friends”
13. “Eleanor Rigby”
14. “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”
15. “When I”m Sixty-Four”
16. Sgt. Pepper reprise
17. “A Day in the Life”
1. “All You Need Is Love”
2 “Magical Mystery Tour”
3. “Strawberry Fields Forever”
5. “Two of Us”
6. “In My Life”
7 “Here Comes the Sun”
8. “While My Guitar Gentley Weeps”
9. “Come Together”
10. “Get Back”
“12. “The End.”
1. “Give Peace a Chance”.
2. “Let It Be”
3. “Hey Jude.”
A few new concert announcements rolled in. James Taylor and his All Star Bande will play July 29 at Buffalo’s First Niagara Pavlion. Tickets go on sale March 14. Also, a country bill with Tim McGraw, Kip Moore and Cassadee Pop will play First Niagara Pavilion near Pittsburgh (June 6) and Blossom Music Center near Cleveland (June 8). Those go on sale March 14.
Seneca Allegany Casino in Salamanca, N.Y., will welcome Katey Sagal and the Forest Rangers on May 30. Tickets go on sale Monday.