Saturday, February 2, 2013

Ticket to Ride - Live Beatles Music in 2013

Chad waves his hand in encouragement.
Part of the joy of seeing and hearing a band like Ticket to Ride is that they can bring the music you grew up with to life. It's what I absorbed on my six-transistor radio first--and then played a million times on records, cassettes, CDs and now, my iPod.

There is more than one Beatles band in the San Francisco Bay Area--I've heard three good ones already. I had a chance to catch Ticket to Ride tonight in the Kensington Circus pub in Kensington. The place is a family restaurant and bar. It was full of families happily consuming their dinners when my friend Tony and I arrived tonight. The band was just setting up. Finally, halfway through my Vegan plate, they started.

Wow! These guys really work at authenticity. Lead singer and rhythm guitarist Chad Labrosse can hit the high notes that Paul McCartney nails--and only dogs hear. He also has a great stage presence--friendly, into the music. Bill Zupko can play all of George's great leads uncannily perfectly. He sings good backup too, and took a few solos. George Becker stands front and center with his Paul McCartney violin bass and holds down the fort. You need a strong bass to give Beatles songs their vitality and keep them honest. He also got in some fine backups during two and three part harmonies. Drummer Marty Ruiz is solid on the 4/4, conjuring Ringo through the evening. He got some nice solo work in, too. Half hidden behind a column tonight was keyboardist and singer Scott Beyer. Even if you couldn't always see him in his neat shirt and tie and John Lennon glasses, he not only hit the piano and organ parts, but produced electronic clapping, sitars, and whatever else was needed.

The guys did two sets. They started out with Something--a surprisingly subdued intro, in my opinion, but they were just warming us up. The evening moved along quickly, with the lads moving back and forth through the Beatles catalog. I heard music from Meet the Beatles, such as I Saw Her Standing There, through mid-period songs such as Norwegian Wood, for which Chad switched to his acoustic electric guitar. The guys pulled off When I'm 64 off Sgt. Pepper, with a complete clarinet part played exactly by Bill. They did a masterful job of The End - including Bill's sensational picking. It's the end of Abbey Road and also of the group.

A few surprises. They played, all of a sudden, I'm a Believer by the Monkees. Their "encore" and show closer was Journey's Lights, proving that they have the chops to do pretty much whatever they set their considerably talented minds to doing.

I'll definitely go find them  when they play elsewhere. The Kensington Circus gig is regular, so you can catch them there again on March 2.


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