“Hello, Denver! Meet the… er… Beatles!” Text and photos by Lisa Gedgaudas.
1964 was a big year in music history and the Beatles led the way when they jogged across the Atlantic from Liverpool. The Fab Four appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show followed by concerts in over 25 states, including Colorado at the beloved Red Rocks Amphitheatre. On Saturday, and over 44 years later, that night was honored by one of the biggest and most critically acclaimed Beatles tribute bands, 1964.
The 1964 The Tribute has been around since 1982 and is hailed the most authentic and enduring Beatles concert re-creation. The band, which consists of Gary Grimes (Paul McCartney), Mark Benson (John Lennon), Tom Work (George Harrison) and Terry Manfredi (Ringo Starr), has almost 3,000 shows under its belt. Perhaps obviously, the closer you get to the stage, the actual resemblance diminishes and is a touch… mature, shall we say, for the accuracy of the Beatles’ ages at the time. Still, the overall appearance is spot on, and the musical impersonation did a great job of reminding us of an era that we’ll never really forget — black suits, black locks and a minimalist stage that welcomed only a few guitars, a small drum set and a few Vox amps.
These guys have appeared throughout the United States, Canada, Europe and South America, and after hearing the music with the modest visual spectacle, you can’t deny the significance of their popularity. 1964 nails every tone, twist, mannerism and even touches on the wit of the four men that taught many of us how to love through music. The harmonies and hits were seamless, leaving you feeling how you’d want to — as if you were really there that day. It seemed that every person in the sold-out amphitheater knew what it meant to be there, to take part, to clap their hands, and to sing-along. It made everything OK again.
Most of the songs were crowd pleasers, and for good reason — it kept things moving, lighthearted and touching when it was needed. Songs included “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Please, Please Me,” “A Hard Days Night” and “In My Life.” Even Ringo got his time in the limelight with “Act Naturally,” all delivered with enthusiasm and (polished) humility.
There have been numerous tribute acts that have made a first-class go of honoring such superior bands. Beatlemania — a band named after the craze and enthusiasm of the fans — takes a wider view of the Beatles canon, presenting costumes changes with the characteristics of the music. 1964, however, limits the tone, clothing and temperament to the pre-“Sgt. Pepper” days. It may at first seem like a drawback to a vast audience expecting a bigger range of themes, but in the end, it makes for a great night.
The Beatles still resonate, proving an enduring force in new ears and longtime listeners alike. To experience a tribute to something so great naturally keeps it alive and kicking and the people are still coming.
Note: Don’t miss Red Rocks’ performers’ Hall of Fame attraction located inside the visitor center that highlights artists who have performed at the Amphitheater since 1941, and of course that day in 1964.
Reverb contributor Lisa Gedgaudas also writes for Colorado Music Buzz.