There’s something silly about tribute bands.
I mean, I’m all for nostalgia, but the concept of it can all too easily seem like a sad attempt to hang on to younger, better days that are long gone and won’t be coming back.
Certainly, a handful of bands have successfuly pulled off the tribute thing. Think of Dark Star Orchestra. The Beatles have to be rock’s most covered band and has to lead the list of tribute bands, from Beatlemania on down. That’s not counting the dozens of rock performers who made a career out of Beatle-esque music, from ELO to Oasis.
But there’s most certainly something special about what The Fab Faux do. Something quite impressive – and incredibly engaging and entertaining.
The success of The Fab Faux – they’ve developed a loyal following in the New York metro area in their 15 years together – is based on two significant facts: First, they don’t make the mistake of attempting to look like the Beatles. This is all, in fact, about the music, not an attempt at an off-Broadway production complete with Beatle boots and Cuban heels.
Secondly, these guys are all top-knotch musicians, and some of the best session players in the country. They were well-estabished well before they set out to do the Beatles thing. Led by bassist Will Lee from David Letterman’s band and Conan’s bandleader, Jimmy Vivino, Fab Faux is impressive for it’s musicianship if nothing else. And they clearly love these tunes.
I should interject that I’m far from a Beatles nut. But these are tunes I grew up with, and you can’t get it out of your head that this is remarkably close to what these songs would sound like live had the Beatles ever performed them on stage. Most of these, as fans know, are tunes that the Beatles released after giving up on live shows.
On to the Wellmont Theater, an aging but impressive venue in Montclair, N.J., where The Fab Faux took the stage Saturday. I approached it with some interest and no small amount of dread. For this show, the band was performing the entire “Revolver” album, one of my favorite Beatles recordings for it’s significance – “Revolver” and “Rubber Soul” marked the Beatle’s evolution from a hit pop band to legendary musicians who reshaped the industry.
The Fab Faux pulled off the album, with enough variation that you knew you were hearing a live version of these songs, not entirely a note-for-note rendition of the studio version. A horn section, the Hogshead Horns, and string section, the Creme Tangerine Strings, allow them to pull off tunes like Eleanor Rigby and Yellow Submarine.
The second half of the show consists of a string of Beatles hits, which, of course, never run out. Through it all, including an impressive rendition of “Oh Darling,” the Fab Faux nail one of the most difficult things about covering the Beatles – the vocals. That, in fact, is what allows them to pull this all off so successfully.
So, is this a must see band? They’ll be at the Beacon Theater in October, when they will perform the entire “White Album.” Well, that’s kind of up to you. This isn’t a band performing new, experimental music. But they are impressive for their obvious musical talent, and their devotion to this music. Some of us grew up with this and it’s a heck of a kick to see it performed live.
The Fab Faux won’t change the course of music – even as they’ve mastered the music of a band that did. Yes, it’s something of a fantasy, but the performances are amazing and the vocals are hauntingly good.
It was just a lot of fun. Yeah, I’d definitely say to go see these guys.
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