By M. Scott Morris/NEMS Daily Journal
For a period of time, four young men from Liverpool, England, shook the foundations of popular music. The Beatles’ musical legacy has survived for decades after John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr decided to go their separate ways.
Of course, it’s impossible to see the Fab Four on stage these days.
But you’ll get a glimpse of the old magic when “Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles” comes to the BancorpSouth Arena on Thursday.
“We start the show like you’re at the ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ and we’re in black suits,” said Mac Ruffing, who plays McCartney. “There are five costume changes that go all the way to ‘Abbey Road’ and ‘Let it Be.’”
A lifelong fan of the band, Ruffing taught himself to play bass left-handed so he’d look more like McCartney on stage. Over the years, he’s been in a number of original bands, as well as Beatles’ cover bands.
“Rain” doesn’t exactly qualify as a cover band. Sure, the Faux Four perform the hits, with help from a keyboard player who adds strings and horns where appropriate.
“It’s a concert, but it’s multi-media, too,” Ruffing said. “It tells the story of the ’60s through Beatles’ music.”
As the band plays, video footage from the 1960s will be broadcast on screens.
“It shows the audience what the atmosphere was like,” he said.
Much of the show is choreographed, but there’s a section when the four come out to perform acoustic songs.
“That spot is where we can change things around a little,” Ruffing said. “We have a set of songs that we do. We pick them before the show.”
As the curtain call approaches, Ruffing begins to get into character. He said putting on his costume helps him connect with McCartney’s voice.
“It’s much easier with the costume,” said Ruffing, who grew up in Cleveland.
Once on stage, the performers provide a specific service. They can’t replace the Beatles – no one can – but they can give a feel for what it must’ve been like, when four lads from Liverpool led a musical invasion.
“You can stand up and cheer. You can sing and dance in the aisles,” Ruffing said. “It’s a great experience and a lot of fun.”
Contact M. Scott Morris at (662) 678-1589 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
What’s in a name?
“Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles” takes its title from a Beatles’ song and a play on words.
The show was created by a group called “Reign.” Back in the days of 45 records, “Rain” was a Beatles’ song that appeared on the B-side of “Paperback Writer.”
The group decided the name change would better reflect its mission to deliver a Beatles-esque experience.
– What: “Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles”
– When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday
– Where: BancorpSouth Arena
– Tickets: $55, $45 and $35 plus fees at arena box office, Ticketmaster outlets, www.LiveNation.com, www.ticketmaster.com, www.bcsarena.com, (662) 841-6528 and (800) 745-3000