When someone from the crowd shouted “Play all night!”toward the end of the first half of the Fab Faux’s performance at Parker Playhouse last night, I’m pretty sure he was speaking for the majority. The Beatles tribute band’s nearly three-hour performance couldn’t have ended too late for the appreciative audience of hippie boomers (and a smattering of younger Beatles devotees).
Known for tackling the most obscure and difficult-to-reproduce songs in the Fab Four’s canon, there’s always something of a balancing act in the Fab Faux’s shows. All tribute bands must grapple with mixing commercial favorites with more esoteric, personal numbers, a task made more even tougher in the Fab Faux’s case, given that they know every single Beatles song.
In the first half of the concert, the band certainly achieved this, plumbing nearly every Beatles release from With the Beatles to Let it Be, as obscure as “Hold Me Tight” and as popular as “Can’t Buy Me Love.” Augmented by strings and horns when applicable, the Fab Faux took the songs such as “Come Together”and “Tomorrow Never Knows” in new, extended directions – “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” was especially epic, infused with a bit of self-professed guitar wankery that prompted one of the audience’s numerous standing ovations.
Following intermission, the Fab Faux partook in the stunning achievement the tribute group is most known for: replicating an entire Beatles album, start to finish, note for note. This time they took on “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” a complex record full of inventive psychedelic arrangements that most kids should not try at home. The Beatles’ druggiest album, “Sgt. Pepper” was never one of my favorites – it always seemed less consistently brilliant than its groundbreaking antecedents “Rubber Soul” and “Revolver.” But after hearing the Fab Faux reinvigorate this defining album of the ’60s counterculture, I have a newfound appreciation for it. The group spared no expense in their flawless recreation; all of the dynamic instrumental color is here, from an upright harp in “She’s Leaving Home” to a sitar on “Within You Without You” to a clarinet on “When I’m 64.”
After that, there’s really no place to go but the obligatory “Hey Jude” encore, sending everyone off with beaming smiles and happy memories. Here’s the complete set list:
1. I am the Walrus
2. Lady Madonna
3. Can’t Buy Me Love
4. Eight Days a Week
5. Nowhere Man
6. Drive My Car
7. Hold Me Tight
8. Ticket to Ride
9. I’ve Got a Feeling
10. Come Together
11. Across the Universe
12. Freebird (partial, from a silly audience request)
13. Here, There and Everywhere
14. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
15. Penny Lane
16. Got To Get You Into My Life
17. Tomorrow Never Knows Intermission “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in its entirety
1. I’m Down 2. Hey Jude