When the band kicked off with “A Hard Day’s Night” it was evident to me that they were disconcerted by the lack of a substantial audience. This observation was supported when Todd came on to do his set and made a remark about all of those who were “fashionably late.” Clearly, they were unaware that the stacked parking at the Greek has become beyond problematic and has moved into the ordeal stage (last year I began the parking experience at 6:30 pm to see Neil Young and walked into the theatre just as the Pretenders ended their opening set at 8:30 pm). So although a sizeable crowd finally arrived, most of the audience missed Todd’s solo set. Unfortunately Mark Farner and Chris Cross suffered this repercussion as well. The audience was not really in place and did not really kick enthusiastically into the appreciation mode until Alan Parsons began to play his set. Things were in full swing by the time Jack Bruce played, and the audience participation provided a strong dynamic throughout the second set.
Todd’s voice was clear and strong. “Open My Eyes” proved he was in fine guitar playing form. “Hello, It’s Me” was played straight with a genuine sincerity (which pleased and frankly surprised me). As each artist moved through their individual sets, I was amazed that these diverse styles could work together to produce a cohesive sounding Beatle tribute. Chris Cross’s voice was fabulous, and Alan Parsons exuded a greater sense of confidence this year, although he was slightly out of tune during “And I Love Her”. The star of the opening set was definitely the legendary Jack Bruce, whose killer renditions of his two early Cream songs “Sunshine of Your Love” and “White Room” allowed the fabulous Godfrey Townsend to share in the spotlight. Why isn’t this guy a star??
After the intermission, the band regrouped and began cranking out a set of the serious Beatle standards. I won’t list the set list as others have done that. I was briefly overcome with emotion as I watched them up there on stage, all in a row wielding guitars, united, paying tribute to the Beatles. It was very clear that Todd, center stage, was in charge and that the other musicians respected and liked him enormously. It is an interesting role, this leadership thing, for a man who has spent so much time working on artistic pursuits of a solitary nature through the years.
An earlier review criticized the sound mix, and I would not disagree with those general observations, however this was not the case tonight. The sound was clean and well mixed, and the vocals came through stunningly clean and clear. There was also a comment made about the fact that there was no female vocalist this year. I decided that that is a good thing. I do not recall a female vocalist singing with the Beatles, and I thought this set list, which I liked a lot, would not have been conducive to a female voice. None of these artists have worked with a female vocalist, either (that I can recall).
This show was fabulous. It sounded terrific (except for a few issues with lyrics once or twice) and the band was clearly up to the task of honoring both the Beatles and the late John Entwistle. As they played “My Generation,” they sang lyrics and played music that are truly the hallmark of our time. It was not difficult to imagine John Lennon, George Harrison and John Entwistle smiling down appreciatively on the band through the starry skies of a beautiful night.