Editor’s Note: Enjoy this review from our sometimes correspondent/photog/Beatles fan Mallory Thompson!
In the midst of the IMF/World Bank meetings last weekend, navigating Foggy Bottom was a bit difficult for the average person – but nothing could stop hundreds of Beatles fans from swarming GW’s Lisner Auditorium to hear the “Fab Faux”. I managed to find a parking spot with only seconds to spare before the concert began – and when the license plate in front of me read “Ringo 1” – I immediately knew I was in for a treat.
I rushed to the doors as the opening number “Hello, Goodbye” filled the room. As I stumbled to find my seat, I kept thinking to myself, “They really DO sound like the Beatles.” But as I turned to face the stage, I was met with surprise – there was a large assortment of musicians and singers to create the sound – not just the regular John, Paul, George and Ringo. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the “Fab Faux” isn’t your average Beatles cover band.
The group hails from New York City and is celebrating their 13th year this month. The lineup includes Will Lee from the “Late Show with David Letterman” and Jimmy Vivino from “Conan” – plus drummer/producer Rich Pagano, guitarist Frank Agnello and ace keyboardist/guitarist Jack Petruzzelli. And it’s not just these five guys who make the show – enter The Crème Tangerine Strings and Hogs Head Horns to create the full Beatles musical experience.
As an avid Beatles fan, I’ve seen my fair number of cover bands, but the “Fab Faux” version was something new to me. Absent were the matching suits, Beatles wigs and fake British accents – but in its place was something far better – Beatles music at its core. Instead of being whisked to 1964 at Shea Stadium, the “Fab Faux” take you on a musical tour of the inside of Abbey Road. Their version of a Beatles cover band comes down to painstaking perfection of every sound in a Beatles recording.
The “Fab Faux” rightly has its own following – over half of the people in attendance had been to a show before – but the concert wasn’t without its slight missteps. Since the “Fab Faux” work to make themselves sound like the Beatles instead of look like the Beatles, there is a constant flurry of crews bringing in instruments and swapping guitars – a major distraction for the concert go-er. But all this can be fixed if you simply close your eyes – you’ll be transported back to Beatles-land in no time.
At Lisner, the band first performed a set of some crowd favorites – “Strawberry Fields,” “Yellow Submarine,” “Penny Lane,” “Lady Madonna” – and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” where Jimmy Vivano’s guitar solo brought the house down. After brief intermission, the band returned to play the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album in its entirety. Sgt. Pepper is one of my favorite albums to just listen to – it has the popular favorites – “With a Little Help from My Friends,” “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds,” “When I’m Sixty-Four” – but also the difficult Harrison tune “Within You, Without You” inspired by Indian classical music as well as “A Day In the Life,” often praised as being the best Beatles song ever for its complexity.
As the encore ended, the crowds left Lisner and poured out into the DC streets, I suddenly realized, the journey was over – until next time. An excellent evening and worth a second trip if the “Fab Faux” happen to be back in the area again.