Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Absolutely Fabulous

[Beatles Live!]  The Beatles played their last concert for paying fans at San Fransisco's Candlestick Park in 1966. So we never got to hear live versions of Beatles tunes like "Nowhere Man," "Back in the USSR," "Because," or "Come Together," to name just a few. That is, until now, thanks to The Fab Faux

I flew down to Phoenix last weekend to catch a rare Fab Faux show out West; the NYC-based musicians don't stray far from home base too often. The Fab Faux is largely the creation of Will Lee, the hardest working bassist in show biz. You might not have heard of Will, but you've certainly heard him. He's played on well over a thousand records in his career and has been the anchor of Paul Shaffer's Late Show With David Letterman band since Day 1. He's also The Fab Faux's front man, aligned with a team of top-notch NYC studio aces who include Jimmy Vivino, Frank Agnello, Jack Petruzzelli, and Rich Pagano (Will would seem to be the only musician of non-Italian decent in the Fabs.) 

I know what you're thinking: Who needs another Beatles tribute band? Well, this isn't your typical faux Beatles band. They don't wear mop-top wigs or dress up in silly costumes (unless you count Will Lee's very colorful wardrobe). There are five in The Fab Faux, and there is no designated John, Paul, George or Ringo. Every one of the Faux is such a strong vocalist that he could front his own band. As the Faux put it, "it's about the music." 

I don't know when these hard-working, much in-demand musicians have any spare time. But apparently they spend what they do have deconstructing and learning Beatles tunes. And when I say learning, I mean every last Mellotron note, tambourine slap, guitar noodle, and vocal harmony part. That's so that you and I can have the pleasure of hearing what The Beatles would have sounded like live, performing sonically rich songs like "I Am The Walrus." When the Fab Faux perform that tune, you hear every last sonic rumble and grumble, every minute nuance, every gorgeous detail in perfectly balanced live audio. 

Listening to The Fab Faux aurally recreate The Beatles' songbook live is like hearing the music with new ears. My wife commented after the show that she'd never realized how complex The Beatles' music was and I found myself listening to songs like "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" as though it was the first time. What a treat! My only disappointment was not being lucky enough to catch one of the many guitar picks Will Lee threw to the audience for souvenirs that night. 

I lost count of the standing ovations during Friday's Fab Faux show at the Celebrity Theater in Phoenix. From the opening "Back in the USSR" to Jack Petruzzelli's bring-down-the-house version of "Oh! Darling" The Fab Faux show was one of the best live shows I've ever seen -- and that's saying something since I've been lucky enough to catch the likes of Elvis, Bruce Springsteen, The Clash, The Rolling Stones and Bob Marley live. Here's a link to The Fab Faux's performance of I Am The Walrus on Letterman. 

Don't bother looking for Fab Faux Cd's. Their philosophy is, "if you want to listen to The Beatles music, buy The Beatles' music." But if The Fab Faux ever come to your town -- or anywhere near it -- take extreme measures not to miss them. You have my quadruple-your-money-back guarantee that you will have an absolutely FABulous time. (Ted Scheffler) 

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