My love for The Beatles started all the way back in my elementary school days. My 6th grad class had an amazing music teacher who would sometimes play records and tell the class stories about the great musicians. One semester she focused on the music of The Beatles. Afterwards I bought a few of their albums on cassette tapes and listened to them until I wore them out.
The Beatles were before my time so I missed my chance to see them perform live, but now we all have the chance to experience the magic of their music live when RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles, comes to the Durham Performing Arts Center for performances on Friday and Saturday February 23rd & 24th.
This show is much more than just a tribute band. The talented band members embody the Fab Four. The music is 100 percent performed live and and the show uses technology, historical media footage and large projection screens to add to the experience and take you back in time. The result is a note-for note theatrical event that is just like seeing the band live in person.
The performance is two hours long with a brief intermission and will showcase the full range of The Beatles’ discography, and celebrates the 50th anniversary of the release of Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band!
I recently caught up with Steve Landes, who plays John Lennon in the show. As John he plays various instruments throughout the performance including piano, rhythm guitar and harmonica and of course the vocals for John.
Steve is a self-taught guitarist and a life-long Beatles fan and an incredible musician in his own right. By the age of 13, he played in a Top 40 cover band in Philly. By 17 he was touring the world with Beatlemania. He join rain Rain as John Lennon in back in 1998 and has been with them ever since.
What is it about Rain that has made it such a successful tribute to The Beatles?
There is a fine line between impersonating and mimicking. We try to embody each member of the Beatles and not just impersonate them. We are all top level musicians and have worked really hard to recreate the sound just like people remember it from the albums. This creates its own challengs becuase some of the songs we all know so well were actually never performed live. So we work hard to bring that sound to you live on stage in a way that is 100% accurate to how you remember hearing it.
What is it like playing John Lennon?
John is a complex person to embody. There are so many facets to him. He was the leader of the band and over time became the hippy psychedelic version of John and it influenced his songs and lyrics. Then there was the John Lennon with a beard, who was all about peace and love. Depending on who you ask you could get a 1,000 different descriptions of what John Lennon was like and I try to embody him throughout his entire arc with the band. I try to portray the John Lennon I envisioned him as and hope that resonates with the fans.
How has the show changed over the years?
The outfits have been updated over the years and so has the set. Songs have been changed out over the years, but of course there are certain favorites that we will always play. We have added the entirety of the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and that has been incredibly popular. One of the biggest additions over the years has been the technology and multimedia experience which has really added some magic to incorporate past footage of the band and really draws the audience in to feeling like they are at those iconic performances.
Why do you think the music of The Beatles remains so popular to this day?
Their music has a timeless quality. They just had really good taste in music and they have so many influences because they loved to listen to all kinds of music. They took these influences and transcended musically to create music that was both melodic and catchy and is steeped in emotions we all feel even today. Even now that we are well beyond the 1960’s it still speaks to you and people connect to the messages in their music.
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RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles will perform at DPAC on Friday and Saturday February 23rd and 24th. For tickets visit https://www.dpacnc.com/events/detail/rain-1.