‘Yesterday’ tribute band is a fabulous take on the Fab Four

A review

‘Yesterday’ tribute band is a fabulous take on the Fab FourBy BRIAN COSNER

News Review Staff Writer

I’m never sure what to expect when I’m sitting down to hear a cover band or a tribute group. Is the band going to take well-loved songs and try to make them their own? Are they going to play the hits we’ve all heard a thousand times, or are they going to get into some of the deep tracks? And my greatest fear – are they going to try so hard to mimic the original that it just leaves me wanting?

Hearing Las Vegas-based “Yesterday – The Beatles Tribute” at the Burroughs Parker Performing Arts Center last week was my first true “tribute” experience. They didn’t just cover Beatles songs and talk about how much they loved the band, their music and their influence. Here I was looking at four guys in mop-top wigs, trying to convince me they were the Fab Four – John, Paul, George and Ringo – which is a pretty tall order. One they pulled off well enough to appease any Beatles lover such as myself

I’ll be honest – it took a few songs (“I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Roll Over Beethoven” and “All My Loving,” to be precise) until I could get into it. But knowing I’ll obviously never get to see the music legends in their prime, “Yesterday” is probably the next best thing.

The group tackled everything from the Beatles’ early touring years (“She Loves You,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Yesterday”), to their Lonely Hearts Club Band era to their later career, with favorites like “Hey Jude” and “Here Comes the Sun.”

Group members pride themselves on performing all of the songs in the original keys with period instruments while switching singers around (even letting “Ringo” sing a few). The band’s perfect harmonies particularly shone during the Lennon-penned “Nowhere Man.”

Rich Fazzi’s left-handed bass playing and spot-on vocals were a perfect fit as Paul. Guitarist Gilbert Bonilla played George, matching all of his licks, solos, riffs and vocal harmonies to a tee. He even nailed George’s signature on-stage shuffle.

Leading the group with Lennon’s sardonic sense of humor was Don Bellezzo on rhythm guitar. Tony Felicetta brought everything together as drummer Ringo, but with a better singing voice.

While they required the assistance of some prerecorded backing tracks, I was most impressed with the group’s performance of middle-years hits like “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields.” The band members hit every harmony and played every subtle musical accent with knowing glances to the audience as if to say, “Yes, we love them just as much as you do.”

It was a singularly enjoyable experience, and I hope to catch them again if I’m ever in the Las Vegas area.

This performance was brought to Ridgecrest as part of the Indian Wells Valley Concert Association’s 2017-2018 season. The band also gave a children’s program the following morning as arranged with the association. The IWVCA has been responsible for bringing quality performance acts to the valley for more than 70 years.

A John Denver musical tribute will close the season on April 18. The association announced, for the first year since 1947, that there will be no 2018-2019 season due to lack of funding. They are seeking community support to possibly get things back off the ground for 2020. See iwvca.tripod.com and future editions for more information.

Story First Published: 2018-02-09