The Beatles, sort of



On Saturday my little sister dragged me and my 11-year-old nephew off to see Twist and Shout, a Beatles cover band, at the Fox Theatre in Tuscon. I was curious to see how my nephew would react since he was kind of a blank slate with only a cursory interest in the Beatles.

The most impressive thing about Twist and Shout is that they’re just 4 musicians playing live, with no pre-recorded music or back-up musicians. And yet they managed to capture the essence of every Beatles song they played, even songs like Lucy in the Sky which were recorded with a lot of studio trickery. The first half of the show was mainly Beatlemania/Hard Days Night period Beatles with the band sporting black jackets and ties. This was a nightmare for me, not because of the music but because I’m claustrophobic and was stuck in the middle of a jam-packed theater with at least a thousand people and if I wanted to get up I’d have to snake my way past about 10 people without knocking over their popcorn and drinks. So I was trapped. I sat there stiff as a board, counting the minutes when the show would finally be over and wondering if death would be a preferable alternative.

Anyways, Twist and Shout had a lively, if slightly corny brand of humor. After the big introduction for “Yesterday” (“One of the most popular songs of all time . . “) the McCartney clone started strumming the opening chords only to veer into “He’s a rhinestone cowboy…” which got a laugh. But best of all, Twist and Shout didn’t go for note-for-note replicas of the records but played them kind of like how the Beatles would have played the songs live.


At intermission my nephew saved the day by saying he knew where “the best seats in the house” were and led us up to the sparsely populated balcony. We were able to stretch out with our feet hanging over the chairs in front of us. Twist and Shout came back out in full Sgt Pepper regalia and did the psychedelic portion of the show (along with a surprise version of “Imagine” with the John clone doing it solo on the piano). Then the rest of the band came back out wearing their Abbey Road/Let it Be hippie dress, with the John clone finally emerging to big applause in his famous all white suit. If you squinted your eyes you could really imagine you were seeing the actual Beatles.

My nephew and my sister danced in the aisles throughout the whole second half of the show, as well as singing along and clapping lustily.  I was surprised how much my nephew got into the music.  He even kept pestering me to get off my ass and dance.  Something I’m loathe to do since I’m pretty self-conscious about dancing in public (I think the last time i danced was at a Grateful Dead show in 1979, loaded on acid and doing the hippy spaz-dancing thing).  The big finale, not surprising, was “The End” from Abbey Road, starting with the guitar solo part.  Then they came back for an encore of “Let It Be” and “Hey Jude” (even got the crowd singing along with the “na-na-na-nananana” part).  And then ended it with a rousing version of “Twist and Shout” and even I got up and boogied along.

The strangest part of the night for me was, as we were leaving the theater the emcee announced that Peter and Paul, formerly of Peter, Paul and Mary would be playing next week at the Fox Theater.  (Mary apparently is dead and can’t make it to the gig).  Made me think this ’60s stuff is just never going end.

Anyways, as we walked back to the car my nephew was happily singing his favorite song, “Yellow Submarine,” at the top of his lungs.  So I guess you could say the band passed the audition.












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