Rain, the tribute concert of Beatles songs, returns to Los Angeles for a one-week engagement after an absence of two years. The group originated when keyboardist Mark Lewis formed a group with four local musicians he called Reign. This was the 1970s and the group rode a wave of nostalgia for the Beatles who had recently broken up. They built up a huge fan base here in Southern California. They changed their name to Rain after local papers misspelled their name (“Rain” was also the title of a 1966 single by the Beatles). When they were asked by Dick Clark to record the music for a 1979 film, Birth of The Beatles, their careers took off.
The group’s intention was never to just cover the Beatles’ songs but to take the show to a new level, incorporating songs that the Beatles had never performed live, and to do the songs note-for-note, gesture-by-gesture. At the time there were no tribute bands. Since they formed the group they have performed all over the world. There have been other Beatle-influenced shows like Beatlemania and the Beatles show by Cirque du Soleil (Love) in Vegas. But Rain is the only show that can give the audience the next best thing to attending a live Beatles performance. For this reason the audience ages at the Pantages ran from Boomer to little kids (who surprisingly knew the words to the music). The audience is allowed to sing along and even to dance (although the Pantages staff seemed to discourage it). We all had a tremendous experience.
The five band members are Joey Curatolo (Paul McCartney), Joe Blithorn (George Harrison), Ralph Castelli (Ringo Starr), and Steve Landes (John Lennon), with Mark Beyer on keyboards and percussion. What distinguishes this group is their devotion to the smallest detail of the music and the performers, singing songs from the Beatles’ earliest hits from Rubber Soul, to Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band to Abbey Road. Along the way they change hairstyles and clothes, and the rear projections also change to reflect the music. Today the group has a repertoire of over 200 songs. I might add their voices are terrific, perhaps even better than the originals. Rain will play the Pantages until April 17.