Theatre — Being the Beatles, 1964 the Tribute
Being the Beatles, 1964 the Tribute
by Michelle Saturley
World’s best mock mop tops return to the Palace
There’s a reason why Rolling Stone magazine has called 1964: The Tribute “the best Beatles tribute band in the world.”
The band members say it’s because they work together — for nearly 21 years now — not only to play the songs of the Beatles, but to recreate the chemistry, the sound and the energy the Fab Four had in the early years.
“We play all the songs from the first seven American releases — basically everything up until Revolver,” said Mark Benson, a co-founder of the group who plays and sings the part of John Lennon. “There’s something very innocent about those early songs. There’s a lot of energy and optimism about them that people respond to.”
The band was formed back in 1984 by four musicians from Ohio who were looking for a short-term novelty act that would bankroll their recording projects.
“We were looking for something we could do part-time that would be lucrative and allow us the free time we wanted to write our own songs and record our own music,” Benson said. “We were all big Beatles fans, so we thought that would be a good start.”
Twenty-one years later, the members of 1964 are still being the Beatles — full-time.
“We’ve been around the world, we’ve sold out Carnegie Hall twice,” Benson said. “I never would have imagined that 21 years ago.”
There are literally hundreds of Beatles tribute bands out there, but Benson says the difference is in the details.
“We didn’t want to just look like them and play their songs,” he said. “We wanted to capture their personalities, their mannerisms, their tones of voice when speaking and when singing.”
And the group doesn’t stop there: they also strive to perfectly emulate the musicianship of John, Paul, George and Ringo.
“A lot of people don’t know this, but John Lennon had only been playing electric guitar for a few years before the Beatles hit it big,” Benson said. “So, when we play those early songs, we can’t infuse them with our own level of musicianship. We have to play the songs at the level of skill that they were playing at the time.”
The band has had some memorable moments while playing the roles of rock n’ roll gods, the high point being a trip to Liverpool to play in front of the Beatles’ hometown.
“That was scary,” Benson said. “I didn’t know how we would be received there: four Americans dressed in matching suits and mop tops. But we were overwhelmed by their positive response, and we have an open invitation to come back any time.”
Now, the band is looking forward to returning to Manchester, where they will take the stage at The Palace on Jan. 16.
“New England has been very good to us,” Benson said. “We have a very loyal fan base there — some real hardcore Beatles fans.”
And therein lies the question: do audience members ever get carried away and forget that they aren’t really the Beatles?
“Not really,” Benson said. “Sure, some of the girls will scream and pull their hair, but I think it’s because they see us up there playing our parts, so they are playing their part as well. ‘I’ve had a lot of younger people come up to me after a show and tell me that they were too young to see the Beatles live, but now they felt like they had. That’s the greatest compliment to me.”
I wanna hold your hand
Who: 1964:The Tribute
When: 7 p.m. Jan. 16
Where: The Palace Theatre, 80 Hanover St., www.palacetheatre.org
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