June 30th, 2014
Caravelle Theater, Branson, MO
Even in a town best known for their love of country and gospel music, the Beatles cannot be denied. We went on a family vacation with my parents to Branson, Missouri, aka the “Christian Vegas”, and enjoyed the unique and odd experience of seeing the Liverpool Legends, a Beatles tribute band presented by Louise Harrison, George’s sister and a Missouri local. It was a pleasure hearing such a wide-ranging set of Beatles songs live, even with a fairly low-budget presentation and uneven performances from the impersonators.
The Liverpool Legends readied the crowd nicely with some real-life clips of Beatles-mania crossed with some of the funnier moments from the acclaimed Beatles film Hard Day’s Night. The hysteria of Beatles-mania led to the curtain rising and the band kicking into a slew of early Beatles songs, from originals like “Hard Day’s Night” and “All My Loving” to covers like “Please Mr. Postman” and “Twist ‘N’ Shout”. The band tried to get the crowd into the hysteria by prompting the audience to stand front and center and screaming hysterically at the band. It’s a strange thing to cheer for a fake Beatle like they are a real Beatle, but fun nonetheless.
With Louise Harrison putting her weight behind this tribute act, it’s no surprise that the George Harrison impersonator, Marty Scott, was easily the best of the four. The fake George didn’t just stand center stage as the real George would in live performances, but he took center stage attention, handling all the stage banter; he was no doubt the spunkiest and most joyful performer. The Liverpool Legends’ fake Ringo (Greg George) had an uncanny resemblance to Ringo, mostly because of his mountain of a nose, but also filled in (drummer pun intended) quite nicely as the fake Beatles drummer. The fake John (Kevin Mantegna) definitely got the snarky and playful banter of Lennon right, but didn’t always look the part especially with his latter-day Beatles wig and outfit. Finally, fake Paul (Bob Beahon) was clearly the oldest member of the group and clearly in his twilight years, as he looked the least like his subject and his voice lacked the range and timbre of a young Paul.
The band then left the stage for an intermission returning with material from Revolver to Let it Be, sporting some of the band’s more psychedelic outfits. It’s an odd experience seeing a tribute band perform these songs when you consider the Beatles never toured or performed these songs live themselves. Nonetheless, this is their most interesting stretch of music, so it was fun hearing the wide-ranging group of songs. The Legends closed on the classic closer “The End” from Abby Road, and encored with the timeless sing-along “Hey Jude”. It was especially fun to experience live Beatles music with my Dad, who was spoon-fed Beatles music when we were growing up and taught me to love the band.
I haven’t had the chance to see Rain or the Fab Four (probably the two most acclaimed Beatles tribute bands), so I don’t have a great barometer to compare this cover band to. I have of course seen other tribute bands, like the always great This Must Be the Band (Talking Heads Tribute), and while the Liverpool Legends don’t live up to the best tribute bands I’ve seen, it’s hard to deny this was a fun and enjoyable experience spending almost two hours with live music from the best band in history.