In the mid-70’s, when tribute bands were completely non-existent, a group of musicians got together with the idea of performing nothing but music from the Beatles. Calling themselves Reign, their music went beyond impersonation. When onstage, they practically transformed into the Beatles, not just musically but in terms of performance as well. Here we are, decades later, and the only thing that’s changed is the spelling of their name. Now called Rain, they have developed a reputation for putting on “perfect note-for-note performances,” ones with the capability of making you forget you aren’t actually seeing the real thing.
Performing at the Orange County Performing Arts Center through March 28, Rain is a truly unique experience. Spanning the entire career of the Beatles, from the infamous Ed Sullivan performance forward, every sequence feels as if the audience has been transported to a live concert from that moment of their career.
I’ve always found it fascinating just how varied the Beatles musical catalog is stylistically. It’s amazing that the same group responsible for the pop-music of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” also gave the world the amazing ballad “Yesterday” as well as the completely surreal “Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.” And yet, while Rain covers all of these periods, they do so in a way that never feels jarring.
Utilizing three screens (one on each side, and a giant one behind them), the show is filled with cleverly integrated footage designed to represent the moment they are currently portraying. Featuring a combination of real historical footage, photo recreations, and real advertisements from the era (including a hilarious one with the Flintstones promoting cigarettes), this footage helps ease the transitions from one segment to another. It’s a very creative idea, utilized very well.
I found it interesting that the performers never actually pretend to be The Beatles. Going in, I was under the impression that this was going to be a more theatrical event, one in which they would actually be “playing” the Beatles. This wasn’t the case. They are always Rain and never The Beatles. They even talk to the audience at one point about the thrill of having so many people there to pay tribute to the Beatles. Of course, this is all done brilliantly in the Beatles’ voices and mannerisms.
Featuring a great deal of audience interaction, everyone seemed to be having a great time. We were often encouraged to dance and sing and everyone was all too eager to oblige. I loved watching the audience caught up in these moments, with children and adults bonding together through this timeless music. A great show for the entire family, this is something that all ages seemed to enjoy. At one point, all the children were encouraged to sing along, and I was thoroughly impressed at how many kids knew all the words.
There was a moment during the amazing performance of “When My Guitar Gently Weeps” where the woman next to me started crying. That might have been a little excessive, but it just goes to show that these guys are able to connect with an audience. I’m too young to have ever been to a Beatles concert, but I imagine that this is what it must have felt like. If you are a fan of the Beatles, you owe it to yourself to see this concert. And if you’re not a fan, this just might turn you into one.
Get your tickets now at the Center Box office, by calling: 714.556.2787 or going online at: OCPAC.org!