"Rain" a worthy experience
The first noticeable characteristic of “Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles” when walking into Heinz Hall was the audience. Although The Beatles are cross-generational, on Tuesday night Pittsburgh’s older generation dominated the audience. Now, a production packed with the city’s baby boomers may not sound particularly appealing, but really, there is no other way to listen to 1960s music live. Listening to The Beatles with a crowd who actually lived in the ’60s, one begins to see their younger selves shine through. One becomes privy to watching an overweight senior couple perform a cross between a Flower Child dance and the Twist and laugh at jokes about drugs.
From Jan. 11 to 16, Heinz Hall presented “Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles,” an interactive, live concert hailed by the Denver Post as “the closest thing to seeing The Beatles live today.” Annerin Productions, together with Magic Arts & Entertainment/TIX Corporation, ensured a fun concert with a band that sounded true to the originals they emulated.
Tuesday night’s show was somewhat tailored to an older audience. The music was not deafening, to the chagrin of some teenagers there. Despite these teenagers’ unhappiness, it was a good choice; being able to actually hear the performers play and sing gave credit to their work as impersonators and helped enhance the experience of listening to live, good-quality music. The set list included songs such as “Let It Be,” “Hey Jude,” and “Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
The band was made up of Jim Irizarry (acting as John Lennon), Mac Ruffing (Paul McCartney), Jimmy Pou (George Harrison), and Douglas Cox (Ringo Starr). The performers were older, so the further the program went into The Beatles’ later music, the more they seemed to resemble the actual Beatles members. Irizarry was spot-on: Not only did he look like Lennon, but he sounded just like him as well. Ruffing had a tough role; while he looked just like an older version of Paul McCartney, his voice was a little too high. One of the best performers in the group perhaps was Pou, a Cuban man who was a skilled guitar player and whose love of music shone through his performance. Cox was a solid drummer, and, for two of the songs, a solid singer.
The multimedia portion of the show was one of the highlights of the night. The images and videos that played during the show served as a historical testament both to The Beatles’ overwhelming presence in the 1960s and to the dramatic, world-changing events of their time. The program was ordered chronologically, so as the performers changed costumes, the music evolved and the projected images fast-forwarded in history. As one watched, one slowly became aware of being an outsider to a time of intense activity.
All in all, going to see “Rain” was essentially going to watch a pretty good cover band get all the applause and accolades for music written by possibly the most successful band in history. That is not to say that it was not a fun and entertaining experience, or that the musicians were somehow subpar or sloppy. It is to say, though, that no one could experience the intense and mind-boggling enormity of a live Beatles concert today.