October 21, 2005
BY JASON SONGE
I must have seen close to twenty different Beatles cover bands in Liverpool recently. Before that trip, I hadn't seen a Beatles cover band, and I thought it made sense what other people said about not messing with such classic songs. But, I found out in Liverpool that, if performed with passion and certain amount of capability, Beatles cover bands can be a hoot. Because, really, where else besides a Paul McCartney concert are you gonna be able to hear those great songs live?
Penny Lane, the Beatles cover band that played at Howlin' Wolf Friday night, was billed as the "ultimate Beatles experience." That, of course, wasn't true. Penny Lane would have fallen right in the middle of the bands in Liverpool. Which is pretty good, considering the best Beatles cover bands in the world were there for a week.
All four Penny Lane members wore matching black suits, had their hair styled in moptops, and spoke in Liverpudlian accents. None of them looked like their Beatle match except the drummer, who really resembled Ringo and even played the drums like him. He performed with that same swing that Ringo had.
Considering the hurricane, a decent amount(maybe 75?) of people came to see Penny Lane. A few people got close to the stage and danced, but there was such a lack of physical interest in the music that Penny Lane had the rejected demeanor of a band that didn't have much crowd energy to work with. That doesn't mean Penny Lane didn't play well, though. They might not have been the most energetic Beatles cover band, but they only flubbed the music once or twice.
For the first set, Penny Lane played Beatles material through 1964, including "Eight Days a Week," "A Gard Days Night," and "Can't Buy Me Love." They took a break and came back for the second set wearing the beige outfits associated with their 1965 and 1966 tours. For this set the band played material from 1965 until 1970, including "In My Life," "Nowhere Man," "Eleanor Rigby," and "Good Day Sunshine."
"In My Life" was poignant, considering the hurricane and the people we might never see again as a result of it. Look up the lyrics. See if you don't get sad.