When referring to restaurants, clothing or hotel rooms, they say you get what you pay for.
And whether you’ve experienced a show or not, the saying also applies to tribute bands.
Knowing this, Beatles tribute band the Fab Four made the decision early on in its career to make every single aspect of its show as accurate as possible, proving they deserve their self-appointed status as the ultimate Beatles tribute.
“Why would you pay a little bit more for a nicer hotel? Because it’s a nicer hotel,” Ron McNeil, who portrays John Lennon in the Fab Four, said. “Hopefully we’re the nicer hotel.”
The Fab Four brings its show, which covers the span of the Beatles’ career, to The Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox on Saturday for “SuperPops 6: The Fab Four,” featuring the Spokane Symphony and conductor Morihiko Nakahara.
The Fab Four was the creation of McNeil and Ardy Sarraf, who portrays Paul McCartney in the group.
McNeil’s introduction to music came from his older sister, from whom he borrowed records by the Monkees, then the Beatles.
“She knew she wasn’t going to get her records back,” McNeil, who was called “Little Beatle” when he was younger, said. “Later I replaced them on CD for her.”
McNeil, who started playing music at 6 or 7, was never interested in playing his own material, instead preferring to learn every detail of the Beatles’ songs.
“How did the Beatles do this? Who’s playing what? Who’s singing what? What kind of guitar are they using? Why did that piano sound weird?” he said. “Whatever it was, I was just trying to figure out what they did because I was so enamored by it.”
Shortly thereafter, McNeil’s dad took him to “Beatlemania,” a Broadway show that featured costumed performers playing Beatles songs.
McNeil looked at the show and thought “Maybe all this knowledge of the Beatles, maybe one day I could do that.”
It wasn’t until McNeil saw Sarraf performing as Paul McCartney at a Beatles convention that the pair thought to turn their passion for the Beatles into a career.
They found a George Harrison (currently played by Liverpool native Gavin Pring) and a Ringo Starr (currently played by Erik Fidel) and began playing clubs in Los Angeles.
The quartet quickly realized that the more detail they put into the act, the better gigs they would get, so they set to work getting every element as accurate as they could.
Along with their spot-on costumes, the Fab Four also uses the same kind of equipment the Beatles did to ensure the sound is as authentic as possible.
“We learned a long time ago that you can’t pick up a Strat and play ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand,’ ” McNeil said. “You can. It’s a guitar, but it doesn’t sound anything like when John Lennon’s playing his Rickenbacker, and you’re playing the right chords on the right guitar through the right amp.”
Fidel wears a prosthetic nose to look more like Starr, and, though he won’t be at SuperPops 6, the quartet usually brings an Ed Sullivan impersonator on tour with them to add humor to the show.
Perhaps most impressively, Sarraf, a naturally right-handed player, taught himself to play with his left hand to match McCartney’s stance.
“It took a lot more work than your average bar band that plays ‘Twist and Shout,’ which is fun,” McNeil said. “But obviously you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck when you go see a Fab Four show.”
Having formed in 1997, the Fab Four has now been performing for twice as long as the Beatles did. McNeil said the demand for the Beatles is still strong simply because the music still connects.
“The music was good and it’s about themes that people can relate to,” he said. “It’s about love, peace and as long as those themes are still relevant in the world, I think the Beatles’ music will be relevant.”
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