I’ve never had the opportunity to go to a tribute concert before, so when I discovered that the Mersey Beatles would be coming to play at The Ark in Ann Arbor, I was ready and rearing to go! That said, I had no idea what to expect and was just as full of questions as I was excitement. How “into character” would the tribute band be? Would they be emulating mannerisms just as much as they were emulating voice? How would the group dynamic compare to the real thing? And most importantly, just how good were The Mersey Beatles? They are considered to be the number one Beatles tribute band, but that really meant nothing to me at that point since I had no experience with tribute bands as a whole.
Needless to say, I was a bit nervous standing in line to receive my wristband for the concert. I’d meant to wear my Beatles t-shirt to show some fan spirit, but sadly I’d forgotten ( so much for fan spirit). I got to the venue about thirty minutes early to get a good spot in line, but I needn’t have bothered. I’d been imagining a string of people extending down the block trying to get into the concert, but there was just a few older couples when I arrived. And to make matters worse, a passerby, having noticed that The Ark was hosting The Mersey Beatles said: “The Beatles? Never heard of them before….must be new.”
Now, I hope he was joking, but at the time it seemed like something right out of the movie Yesterday (If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must watch, feel good film where practically the entire world forgets about The Beatles).
Eventually, there was a good crowd waiting in line for the concert and when we were invited inside, I didn’t have to worry about searching for a good seat. Because the venue was relatively small, every seat in the room had a decent view of the stage. Drinks and food were available to be purchased and there was even room to dance if we so chose. All in all, The Ark is a very cozy and comfortable venue.
And then The Mersey Beatles made their appearance. They certainly made an impression, breaking into song the instant they walked on stage. Almost all of the songs they played were The Beatles greatest American hits, which was a very intelligent move on their part. Classics like Yesterday and Day Tripper were a particular hit with the audience while songs like Eight Days a Week and A Hard Day’s Night had a group of audience members dancing and singing along.
I was amazed at how closely The Mersey Beatles mirrored the vocal tones and layers of the original Beatles. I can only guess that there was a great amount of time and energy spent researching John, Paul, Ringo, and George as well as their albums and performances. The Mersey Beatles, smiled while in song, engaged the audience in classic banter, and joked around with a couple who walked in late, saying something along the lines of: “Now we’re just waiting for the Royal Family.”
I enjoyed the performance immensely and have a new found respect for tribute bands. However, if I was to be nit picky about anything concerning The Mersey Beatles, it would be the lack of interaction between group members. They were all very good at interacting with the audience throughout the concert, but there was a lack of engagement with each other. The Beatles were often playful with one another on stage, whether it was goofing off a bit during a song, or something as simple as making eye contact and smiling at one another. They were a group that shone on stage because you could see how much they loved performing and enjoyed the company of each other.
I believe the next step for The Mersey Beatles is just to loosen up a bit more. Focus on one another as well as the audience. Don’t be afraid to goof off a bit. It’ll make you even more loveable in the long run.