All five members sing in order to provide the distinctive voices of the Fab Four as well as their lush harmonies. And to make things even better…they use a horn section (The Hogshead Horns featuring Jimmy’s brother Jerry on saxophone) and strings (Creme Tangerine Strings) when the music calls for it.
The Fab Faux tend to play theme shows. One night it will be The Beatles psychedelic period; another will be their early club days; and yet another may be the solo years following the band’s dissolution. And if you’re lucky, every once in a while they play an entire album (or two) start to finish.
The beauty of this experience, much like the Broadway sensation that ended over 30 years ago, is that The Beatles only played live for a very short period early in their careers. This means that all of the great albums they recorded from Sgt. Peppers forward were only heard on your stereo. And…they do it all with a sense of humor. Now more than four decades later, these five top musicians come together a few times a year between other projects to give us a real treat. Saturday night in Montclair, NJ was one of those times: a chance to see the final album recorded by the band (the second to last released).
The band took the stage a little after 8PM and launched into Hello, Goodbye. They went on to play a 15 song, one-hour opening set of Beatles hits (I Saw Her Standing There & Penny Lane), favorites (Baby, You’re a Rich Man) and rarities (Anna by Arthur Alexander from their debut album Please, Please Me). The crowd had a great time. And the best part was seeing all the kids in the audience. This brought me back to being 11 years old and being taken by my father with six of my friends to see Beatlemania for my birthday in 1979. But more importantly, it showed that the songs of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr are the most timeless recordings in the history of Pop music.
The band took a half hour break and then returned to the stage for the “event” we had all come for. Everybody has his or her favorite Beatles album. So it is only fair for me to tell you that after listening to Sgt. Pepper’s over and over on cassette in my bedroom as a kid, Abbey Road is the album (yes, I do mean vinyl) that I wore out in high school and college. And still, to this day, the final recorded work by the band stands the test of time as their finest moment.
From the opening notes of Come Together, to the final notes of The End and on through Her Majesty, the five members of the Fab Faux played the songs exactly as the Beatles and George Martin worked them out in 1969. Whether it was the addition of the Hogshead Horns & Creme Tangerine Strings, Rich’s version of Ringo’s only drum solo or the dueling guitar solos by Jimmy, Jack & Frank, you felt like The Fab Four were alive and rocking in Montclair in 2011.
The show concluded with a double encore of Hold Me Tight from 1963’s With The Beatles and Hey Jude. Fans both young and old were on their feet to sing along as Jack belted out the refrain to one of Macca’s greatest hits. And just over to and half hours after they said “Hello,” the band took a final bow and was gone.
I cannot find fault with anyone who loves cover bands. I guess I must come to grips with having an affinity for them under certain circumstances. But let me leave you with this thought: You most likely will never find yourself in flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt wandering into a bar without doors to hear these five men play. So if you love the music of the Beatles and wish that you could have seen them live, or you saw them at Shea Stadium, but couldn’t hear a thing and realize that they were years away from penning their true masterpieces, you need to seek the band out. Life can be hard on us all. But the chance to be Fab is something we can all use once in a while.
Set 1: Hello, Goodbye, Baby You’re A Rich Man, I Saw Her Standing There, Day Tripper, Strawberry Fields, Eleanor Rigby, Taxman, I’ll Follow The Sun, 8 Days A Week, Anna, While My Guitar Gently Weeps, Revolution, Lady Madonna, Penny Lane, I Am The Walrus
Set 2: Abbey Road in its entirety
Encore: Hold Me Tight, Hey Jude