CONCERT REVIEW: Liverpool Legends dive deep to please devoted Beatles fans in Wilkes-Barre
The world is full of Beatles tribute acts, but only one has a direct connection to a Beatles family member.
Liverpool Legends, a fab foursome handpicked by George Harrison’s sister Louise, brought back the magic of Beatlemania on Friday, May 26 at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre.
The group wears pretty much the same costumes and plays pretty much the same instruments as all the other tribute acts, but Liverpool Legends stands out because it isn’t afraid to stray from the biggest hits and most popular songs, peppering its show with some tasty deep cuts and lesser-known gems.
After a video narrated by Louise Harrison, who will turn 86 later this month, the first part of the show recreates The Beatles’ Feb. 9, 1964 appearance on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” when 73 million Americans tuned in to get their first glimpse of the band.
But instead of playing the five tunes The Beatles played that night, Liverpool Legends played a strong set of songs from that time period, including opener “Please Please Me,” the still-fab “I Saw Her Standing There,” and “She Loves You,” the latter two flawlessly duplicated from the actual Sullivan setlist.
Marty Scott, the group’s George Harrison, then came to the microphone and welcomed the crowd to the show in that famous Liverpudlian accent. He then sang a nice version of “Do You Want to Know a Secret?” – a song that went to No. 2 in the U.S. even though it was never released as a single in the U.K.
The group then rocked its way through “Please Mr. Postman,” “Roll Over Beethoven,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” and “You Can’t Do That” before finishing up the Sullivan segment with a solo performance of “Yesterday” by Davey Justice, the group’s Paul McCartney.
After another video segment, the band came back to the stage dressed like The Beatles did for its first performance at Shea Stadium on Aug. 15, 1965. This segment featured five of the 12 songs The Beatles performed at that first-ever rock concert at a stadium, plus four more tunes from that time period.
The Shea set started with “I Feel Fine” and “Can’t Buy Me Love” before Greg George, the group’s Ringo Starr, led the crowd on a glorious sing-along version of “Yellow Submarine.”
Kevin Mantegna, the group’s John Lennon, chipped in a beautiful rendition of “In My Life,” then the band rattled off “She’s a Woman,” “Drive My Car,” the Carl Perkins cover “Everybody’s Trying to Be My Baby,” and “Day Tripper.” The first half of the concert then came to a close with the crowd on its feet for “Twist and Shout.”
The second half began with the group in the colorful suits from the cover of 1967’s “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” and playing that album’s opening one-two punch of the title song and “With a Little Help from My Friends.”
Liverpool Legends then played great versions of “All You Need Is Love” and the complex “I Am the Walrus,” two songs the actual group never played live on stage. They followed with a crowd-pleasing version of “When I’m 64” and wrapped up this segment with a mind-blowing “A Day in the Life.”
Following another video segment, Scott returned to the stage for a solo acoustic version of Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun.” Then Justice sat at the piano for “Let It Be” before Mantegna (a bit out of place wearing the “New York City” t-shirt and army jacket Lennon wore for his 1972 solo concert at Madison Square Garden) did a fabulous version of “Come Together,” a standout from 1969’s “Abbey Road.”
Justice then brought the house down with his faithful reproduction of the voice-shredding McCartney song “Oh! Darling,” and Scott had them dancing in the aisles for Harrison’s “Something,” complete with a note-for-note duplication of the song’s famous guitar solo.
The group then finished up the show with a medley of “Get Back,” “Birthday,” and “The End” and the single version of “Revolution.” After a few minutes, the group encored with “Hey Jude,” keeping the audience singing as it filed out of the theater.
Jeff DeHart, a nationally known stand-up comedian and impressionist, did a fine job as Ed Sullivan for the evening, even hilariously twisting along as the band played “Twist and Shout.”
The show was presented by Edd Raineri, the host of “The Beatledd Fab Four Hour,” which recently celebrated its seventh anniversary on King’s College radio station 88.5 WRKC-FM in Wilkes-Barre.