1964 ... Tribute to the Beatles

Date and Venue 15 May 2008 @ 8pm | Orpheum Theatre

Featured Artists Mark Benson, Gary Grimes, Tom Work and Terry Manfredi

Reviewer John Jane


The “real” Beatles gave their last live performance on the rooftop of the Apple building in London in 1969. Since then, two of them, Lennon and Harrison have sadly left our world. So, the only way that loyal fans – and they still seem to number many - can relive those halcyon days of Beatlemania is through tribute concerts such as the one staged at the Orpheum theatre last week.

As tribute bands go, 1964 are as good as any and better than most. Few details are spared in an honest pursuit of accuracy. Gary Grimes, a natural right-hander, who performs as Paul McCartney even switched to playing his Hofner bass replica left-handed for the sake of authenticity.

Grimes, together with his band-mates Mark Benson performing as ‘John’, Tom Work as ‘George’ and Terry Manfredi as ‘Ringo’ move like, dress like and generally sing like the Beatles. What sets this group apart from other cover bands is that they confine their repertoire to the Beatles early career. While this excluded some great songs like “Penny Lane” and “Lucy in the sky with diamonds” it allowed the inclusion of cover tunes that the Beatles recorded but rarely played live.

After playing together for 24 years (twice as long as the Beatles did) they have perfected all the sublime chord progressions that the earlier tunes were loved for. Starting with the first song, “I want to hold your hand,” the entire repertoire was performed with barely any discernible deviation from the original version.

The guys ended the first set with the Isley Brothers’ “Twist and Shout,” perhaps the most popular Beatles song that they never wrote, which at the behest of the band, turned into a stand-up audience participation sing-along.

After opening the second set with “I saw her standing there,” the foursome had the crowd joining in to Chuck Berry’s “Roll over Beethoven.” Not surprisingly, most of the vocals were performed by Grimes (Paul) and Benson (John) but the other two were also given their moment in the spotlight. Tom Work did great work (sorry, no intentional pun) on the charmingly dated lyrics of the George Harrison composition, “Taxman” – younger members of the audience may have been confused by the reference to “Mister Wilson,” a former British Prime Minister.

If mobile phones had been around in the sixties, it’s a fair bet that John Lennon might have encouraged people in the audience to “Turn ‘em on and call a friend” – “if you don’t have a friend call someone you want to aggravate and get them it to listen” quipped Benson in his Lennon style banter at the intro to “Yellow Submarine.”

The predictable encore brought about an energetic rendition of “I wanna be your man” which had the crowd singing along and waving their arms in unison.

At the end of the show, everyone was leaving the theatre with a broad smile. There is, after all, a future in nostalgia.

© 2008 John Jane