I Read The News Today Oh Boy!

Posted by Rick Bedrosian

Two reviews of a recent Hey Jude concert appeared in print and on line last week:

Nippertown Review by Ed Conway-
It’s Friday night, and I am starting my All-Beatles Weekend (the next night is The Fab Faux at The Egg). Unfortunately, we got a little bad news as Apple Records would not grant permission for the Madison Theater to screen the film “Help!” prior to the concert, as had originally been scheduled. (Rumor has it Apple has stopped public showings of the Beatles movies). Instead, they showed an interesting documentary about the Beatles; not the same, but, as they say, shit happens. Audience members who had bought tickets in advance were told about the switch in advance, so many arrived towards the end of the documentary. Since the theater was fairly full, there was a lot of jostling for spots in the dark so by the time the intermission was over, there were very few seats left; a good omen for the night.
If you’ve never seen Hey Jude…The Tribute, they are, as you may guess, a Beatles tribute band, and, like many, they come complete with period costumes. In addition, they employ period-correct instruments and gear. They also possess an uncannily similar sense of humor during their between-song stage banter, complete with fairly good impressions by Paul (Brad Jarvis) and John (Tom Raider), both of whom performed as Imagining Lennon & McCartney prior to forming this group.
The quiet one of the group, George was played by Rick Bedrosian, best known as the bassist/bandleader of Hair of the Dog, but he put down his bass and picked up a Rickenbacker to play pretty much note-for-note lead guitar. Laying down the Beatle beat was Don Ackerman, who had Ringo’s understated, but solid, drum style down pat. I realize the Fab Four, only had four members, but they frequently had guests playing keyboards (think Billy Preston), and this incarnation wasn’t any different as Rich Coogan held down the title of the fifth Beatle. His job, however, was a lot more than just keyboards, as he also had to fill in, at various times, for strings, brass, sound effects and other assorted duties (he also had some of the more outlandish costumes, since the other four were kind of stuck in replicas of iconic clothes).
Musically, the Fab Five were what you would expect, pretty much note-for-note with all of the classic, instantly recognizable riffs in place. Each of the “Beatles” sang their songs as they had appeared on the various albums. One of the highlights was Raider, accompanied by Coogan, performing “Imagine” in Lennon’s iconic white suit. Other crowd favorites were “Yellow Submarine” and the encore (naturally) of “Hey Jude.” The entire evening of music was very enjoyable, and a very nice lead-in to the next evening’s show.

Accidentally Watching a Tribute Band
By Sara Foss for the Daily Gazette, Wednesday, May 4, 2016-
I’ve never really understood the point of tribute bands, but last Friday night I found myself at a performance by Hey Jude, a Beatles tribute band from the Capital Region.
What drew me to this event wasn’t the music, but the opportunity to see the 1965 Beatles movie “Help!”, which I’d never seen before. The movie would be followed by a performance by Hey Jude, and I liked the idea of seeing a movie and listening to music by the band featured in the film. If the event had simply been a performance by a Beatles tribute band, it never would have piqued my interest.
While I can understand why people might be willing to shell out money to see the Beatles — especially in this day and age, because a live Beatles performance would require the resurrection of both John and George — I have trouble understanding why they would shell out money to see people imitate the Beatles. I’m not singling out Hey Jude — it’s tribute bands in general that I don’t understand. I was willing to pay money to see Roger Waters perform “The Wall” in Albany a few years ago, but I have no interest in catching the upcoming performance of Australian Pink Floyd. I was eager to see “Purple Rain” in the movie theater last week, but it’s much harder to see the appeal of a Prince tribute band.
So I was excited to see “Help!”, but considerably less excited about seeing a Beatles tribute band. Unfortunately, the movie “Help!” was not available, and the audience was subjected to a bad Beatles documentary called “Journey” instead. (The Madison Theater made amends for this mistake by giving out free movie vouchers.)
By the end of this film, I was in a decidedly irritable mood, and the rest of the audience seemed restless as well. “Journey” is disjointed and poorly constructed, but it also features extensive interview footage of Mark David Chapman. While not completely devoid of interest, I think it’s probably safe to say that nobody was particularly interested in listening to the man who killed John Lennon. They were there to have a good time — to see and hear the band they love.
Fortunately, Hey Jude proved much better than I expected. These guys are a lot of fun! They won me over so completely that I’d actually be willing to see them again … even though they’re a tribute band.
For one thing, their stage banter is actually pretty good. Not good enough to trick me into thinking I’m watching the real Beatles, but good enough to bring a smile to the face. The same was true of their music. Hey Jude might not be the Beatles, but they perform Beatles music with good cheer, wit and verve. If you haven’t listened to the Beatles in a while — and even if you have — Hey Jude will give you a taste of the terrific songwriting and pop craftsmanship that made the Beatles great.
Hey Jude performed one set dressed as the young Beatles, in black slacks, jackets and mop top haircuts, and played earlier tunes such as “A Hard Day’s Night.” Then they took a break and returned looking like they had stepped off the cover of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”
After some lighthearted commentary, they played an energetic mix of mid-to-late Beatles songs. “They got better,” my husband said, and that’s how it seemed. Though as a bigger fan of the mid-to-late Beatles than the early Beatles, I would argue that Hey Jude had material from which to draw. In any case, we got to hear some of my favorite Beatles songs — “With a Little Help From My Friends,” “All You Need is Love” and, of course, “Hey Jude,” which I once played at a piano recital.
By the end of the show, I felt pretty good. Not as good as if I’d seen the real Beatles, but pretty good nonetheless.
As for tribute bands, Hey Jude helped me understand the appeal, and it’s pretty simple: They play music you like and make you happy. There isn’t really that much more to it, but does there need to be? Sometimes good music is all you need.
Got a comment? Email me at sfoss@dailygazette.net.