Wednesday, July 2, 2014

The Fab Four

Missed (or miss) the 60s? Tribute band takes you back

Express Staff Writer

Get your ticket to ride for The Fab Four, at Sun Valley Pavilion, Saturday, July 5.
Courtesy photo

    It seems that every new generation since The Beatles broke up in early 1970s likes to think they discovered the group, and they can’t wait to educate their elders. It’s a testament to the high and enduring quality of their music.
      But there are few alive today who can actually boast of their own, live concert experience with the originals.
    “The Fab Four: The Ultimate Tribute Band,” will have die-hard fans questioning “Is it live, or is it Memorex?” when the band storms the Sun Valley Pavilion this weekend as part of the Fourth of July weekend celebrations.
    The concert is part of a fundraising effort by the Sun Valley Opera, as well.
    The opera’s president, Frank Meyer, explained how they decided this was the year to invite the Los Angeles cover band to town.
    “This year is the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ arrival in America with their appearance on the Ed Sullivan TV show,” Meyer said. “The rest is history. This fun concert tours the USA and abroad; there is even an Ed Sullivan look a-like. The L.A. Times says it is the best Beatles show in the world.”
    Ron McNeil, founder of The Fab Four, said the tribute band doesn’t simply pay homage to The Beatles. Since its  founding in 1997, and beginning to gain ground performing throughout Southern California, the band has refined the act to be almost mirrors in sound and visuals.
    The group has covered nearly the entire Beatles songbook. For a time, The Fab Four brought in a second cast of musicians to perform a full stage show six nights a week in Las Vegas. The show has traveled the globe to Japan, Malaysia, France, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, Mexico and Brazil. They were even guests at the official annual Beatles’ tribute in their hometown of Liverpool, England.
    The Beatles were teens in the late 1950s when John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr got together to jam.
    The band became one of the most popular and influential bands in history.
    “Beatlemania” officially swept the world in 1964 around the time they appeared on the “Ed Sullivan Show” and completed a U.S. Tour.
    And that is where The Fab Four band begins to tell its portion of the story.
    Lennon imitator McNeil said his dad took him to see another tribute band that at the time he thought was going to be the real thing. They were great, but not playing like the real Beatles. He knew the difference, having learned to play guitar to Beatles records.

Everything you hear is coming live—no secret guy behind the curtain. There is no fifth Beatle.”
Ron McNeil
Founder of The Fab Four

    For him, it all started when he, as an ultimate Beatles fan, attended a convention where he saw another heady fan, Ardy Sarraf, imitating George Harrison.
    “They always have sound-alike or look-alike concerts at these things but I was just blown away,” McNeil recalled in a recent interview.
    “The idea started rolling around in our heads and we got it started a few years later.”
    The group quickly distinguished themselves by not merely playing the music, but creating a total immersion learning the gestures, techniques and technical perfections that made the Beatles who they were.
    “If you are just playing the music of the Beatles, it depends on what lever you are going for to make the sound—it’s a choice of a lever,” McNeil said. “But we are being asked to sing it exactly and playing the right instrument to get the exact sounds.”
    The crew works fervently on vocals and acting, makeup and backdrops and costumes to be as authentic as possible.
    Sarraf went from being a right-handed bass player to a southpaw to be real.
    “It’s been quite and undertaking, but I think we do it well and I think that’s why people are taking to it.”
    Public Television reached out to the group last year and created a documentary. When people pledged support, the documentary would air, and often, a live show would follow.
    “We take people through a rough chronology of their history starting from the ‘Ed Sullivan Show.’ We go through their psychedelic phase and we close out when they split up,” McNeil said. “It’s impossible to fit it all in—we’d be there all night!”
    There are at least three costume changes.
    “Some Beatles groups have something on tape or pre-recorded, but we are all live,” McNeil said. “Everything you hear is coming live—no secret guy behind the curtain. There is no fifth Beatle.”
     That attention to detail has audiences swooning.
    “Girls still scream, they are just a little older now,” McNeil said. “People who grew up with the Beatles are in awe that they are that close to what it may have been like to experience what the Beatles had been. We are recognized most for our attention to detail.”
    There will be some merchandise for sale like CDs and T-shirts.
    McNeil plans to make new fans from the show.
    “We do have a family show, and it’s for everyone and anyone who likes good music and we will see Beatles fans, their kids and their kids.”
     It’s also a fundraiser for the Sun Valley Opera, and those who want to expand the experience can get Diva tickets, which add a special party night Thursday, July 2, with soprano Jennie Lister.
    If you are in doubt about this concert, ask a teen about the Beatles, check out The Fab Four online and, as McNeil says, trust the kids.
    “Kids know what good music is—it just takes them a while to find it.”

Re-meet The Beatles
-    Diva Party, Thursday, July 2, featuring opera star, Soprano Jennie Lister.
-    The Fab Four concert: Saturday, July 5, 8 p.m. at the Sun Valley Pavilion.
-    General admission tickets: 888-622-2108; Diva and Intermezzo tickets: 726-0991.
-    Special note: The Sun Valley Opera is selling $75 tickets at 726-0991 or at


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