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It Was Fifty Years Ago Today - Keswick Theatre - Glenside (A Concert Review)

Updated: Jun 23, 2022

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today: A Tribute to the Beatles – Keswick Theatre – Glenside, PA – June 14, 2022

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today is a group tour in which five former pop stars cover a slew of Beatles songs – specifically from the albums Rubber Soul and Revolver – as well as tossing in a couple of each of their own hit singles for good measure.

The group is made up of recent Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee Todd Rundgren, 1980s multiple-Grammy winner Christopher Cross, the last surviving original member of Badfinger, Joey Molland, Jason Scheff, lead singer of Chicago from 1985-2016 (he replaced Peter Cetera, who had gone solo in 1985) and guitarist Denny Laine, an original member of both The Moody Blues and Wings.

The artists performed all together, or in combos, or solo (with a backing band made up of veteran sidemen onstage for most of the songs). This gave the show a nice fluid groove, a mix of different voices and styles taking on leads for beloved Beatles tracks in a labor of love of a show. For the record, Scheff seemed to spend the most time on stage, backing most of his bandmates at one point or another, although everyone mixed and matched. And every six or seven songs, one of the singers took the spotlight to share their own classics.

This basic group had done a similar tour in 2019 which featured songs from the White Album, although Micky Dolenz of the Monkees was part of that group, getting replaced by Laine on this go-around.

The singers all were obviously having a blast playing these old favorites, and their enthusiasm was contagious.

The five of them opened with everyone on stage for a spirited run through of “Drive My Car.” Early standouts included Rundgren’s playful take on “Taxman” and Cross’ wistful rumination on “Eleanor Rigby.”

As great as the Beatles songs were, some of the most enjoyable moments came from the individual artists doing their own catalogues. For example, Denny Laine’s version of Wings’ “Band on the Run” stood out because while many of these songs were extremely faithful to the source material, Laine’s vocal strayed a good bit from Paul McCartney’s take on the original. (Laine had played lead guitar on the older version.)

It was also incredible to see Badfinger’s “No Matter What” and “Baby Blue” performed live by one of the original artists. Jason Scheff’s version of Chicago’s “25 or 6 to 4” killed with a guitar solo which had the theater on their feet. Cross’ sweet take on his own “Sailing” was a pleasant change of pace for the show, and Rundgren smoked his old classic “I Saw the Light.”

However, the focus was the spectacular songbook of Lennon and McCartney (and occasionally Harrison) and most of these songs lived up to their legendary status. Rundgren did a drop-dead gorgeous take on “In My Life” as well of a wildly psychedelic run through of “Tomorrow Never Knows.” Cross shone the most on the sweet ballads, from the pensive “Michelle” to a just gorgeous “For No One.” Cross and Laine also did a breathtaking collaboration on “Norwegian Wood.”

Scheff’s time in the sun included a playful take on “You Won’t See Me” and an ebullient “Good Day Sunshine.” Molland made the slightly obscure “Doctor Robert” his own, and Laine handled “Nowhere Man” lovingly.

However, some of the most fun performances were when all the guys got up and jammed together, particularly a just stunning take on “Here, There and Everywhere” and a spirited encore of “Yellow Submarine.”

It Was Fifty Years Ago Today was put together by Beatles fans for Beatles fans, and it was a pretty terrific tribute to arguably the most influential bands ever – by some famous people whose lives were changed by that inspiration.

Jay S. Jacobs

Copyright ©2022 All rights reserved. Posted: June 15, 2022.

Artwork © 2022. Courtesy of Bowery Presents. All rights reserved.

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