Fab Four twists and shouts its way to Englert

The Fab Four, a Beatles tribute band, rocked the Englert Wednesday night.


Alyson Kuennen

The Fab Four opens at the Englert Theatre in Iowa City on Wednesday, February 13, 2019. The group is a Beatles Tribute band that has been booking gigs around the world for over 20 years.

Haley Triem, Arts Reporter

Young Paul McCartney sits under a yellow spotlight with just a microphone and a guitar. He sings his famous song “Yesterday” and a black-and-white film of him performing the same song in 1965 plays behind him. He sings live, with the video silenced, but his lips, his guitar strums, his every movement and mannerism, match eerily, in perfect synchronization, with the video behind him. It is as if the video is being streamed live from the very concert — but it is not. It is like the man on stage is the real Paul McCartney, sent through time from more than 50 years ago — but he is not.

On Wednesday night, the Fab Four, a tribute band to The Beatles, played at Englert, 221 Washington St. Throughout the performance, “Paul” and the rest of the band exhibited specific mannerisms that perfectly resurrected the group in modern day.

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With outfit changes, bright lights, and backdrops true to the original performances, the audience was given the chance to experience exactly what it was like to view the coming of one of the most famous and influential bands in the world.

“The group was started by Ardy [Paul] around 20 years ago in the LA area,” said Ron McNeil, the owner and co-founder of the band, in an email to The Daily Iowan. “The group has grown from a local bar band to an Emmy Award-winning bar band. Since the early days, we’ve learned how to become better entertainers, and we’ve learned how to develop our show.”

McNeil played John Lennon until his recent retirement, and he has enjoyed the career of a lifetime.

“I was a huge Beatles fan growing up,” said Neil Candelora, who plays Paul McCartney. “I’m actually right-handed, but I loved Paul McCartney so much as a kid I started learning guitar left-handed because I wanted to be just like him. I knew all the songs and met a guy who knew a guy who was John Lennon for the group. He said, ‘Hey, you know, we’re always looking for left-handed dudes.’ So I did a soundcheck for them, and they started putting me in shows, and now I’ve been playing for a while.”

To achieve the level of accuracy the Fab Four creates takes a lot of work from the band members, and the discipline of adhering to another musician’s “rules.”

“We try to recreate exactly what the Beatles did, note for note,” McNeil said. “Even some mistakes that were originally on the records, we’ll reproduce them. The reason is that we want to accurately reproduce the audiences’ experience with the original recordings. We’ve found that the closer we are, the better the audience will respond. It can be a little frustrating as a musician to be boxed in. But, let’s face it, who are we to change what they did?”

Despite the challenges however, the band members are grateful to deliver their performance to audiences nationwide, setting themselves apart from other tribute bands with their attention to detail and crowd interaction.

“I am very fortunate to play the music I enjoy and make people happy,” Candelora said. “That’s our specialty. We pride ourselves on being able to communicate with the crowd. I hope people come out [of our show] either with an experience they’ve never had or a renewed love of the Beatles.”

Along with musical integrity, the Fab Four hope to carry a famous Beatles’ message that needs to be heard in this world: all you need is love.

“We hope that our show will enable people to relive some great memories,” McNeil said. “For the people who weren’t old enough, we hope to recreate what it was like to see and hear the band live on stage. If we can carry on the Beatles’ message of peace and love, I think we will have done our job well.”

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