Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Back Pages Bring the 1960s to Life

The Back Pages at Maltby's on March 22, 2013, blue-lit
I grew up listening to the radio in the 1960s. It was AM on a tinny little receiver until the last couple of years of the decade, but I ate it up. I listened in the morning and after school and especially at night in my room.

I remember hearing the first Beatle songs on the radio--songs like I Want to Hold Your Hand and She Loves You. I also had records, including Meet the Beatles as an 11th birthday present and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band when my mother brought it home in mid 1967.

But the most important thing was the variety and the familiarity, yet surprise when new songs appeared. That's what you get when you go listen to The Back Pages. This long established San Francisco Bay Area band can knock out a series of Beatles, Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Yardbards, Van Morrison, and more. And they do a great job of keeping the sound pretty close to the original.

Just tonight I heard them for the second time. Slightly different from the last show, they were lacking their keyboard player and featured a substitute guitarist. Lucky for them, and the audience, it was the highly skilled Bill Zupko filling in. Bill, who plays Beatles and other favorites with Ticket to Ride, knows how to break down a song and learn the parts perfectly, so I heard George Harrison leads played the way George played them.

Getting to hear a variety of this "classical" music is a treat for me, but also means that younger people can get a sense of the excitement of the sound. I never heard these songs done live myself, but with the energy and careful reproduction the band obviously has worked to create, it's a worthwhile experience.

It was made all the better by taking place in Maltby's, a nice restaurant and tavern in Los Altos, California. My lamb sandwich went well with the brown ales available on tap from the friendly bartender. During the evening, small groups jumped onto the small dance floor and shook themselves about to the beat.

There are lots of tribute bands out there, but when you have to reproduce a reasonably close version of songs by a variety of artists, it takes special skill. I've seen several good local groups, but The Back Pages may be the best of the bunch--and they're great guys, too.

The Back Pages play Maltby's again tomorrow night--and are regulars, so you can catch them again soon--if you're in the San Francisco Bay Area.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the kind words, Steven!