Magical Mystery Show
It was the Hed Shop Boys (with a little help from their friends) at the helm for the Magical Mystery Show tribute to The Beatles. Singer and rhythm guitarist Frank Royster guided his bandmates and a rotation of guests through two sets and four dozen vintage hits from Meet the Beatles to Let It Be before the night’s end.
Billed as Sgt. Submarine, the core for most of the night included Royster, bassist Jay Volpe, lead guitarist Bryn Wilson, and drummer Tommy Capo. They welcomed guitarist Jason Brewer and keyboardist Trey Cooper of The Explorers Club on stage for a later-than-expected start time. Singer Dustin Fanning (of 351 Cleveland) stuck around for the second set, too.
It took a few songs for the home-grown supergroup to really warm up. Early renditions of “I Saw Her Standing There,” “Drive My Car,” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand” were nicely executed, but they seemed sluggish and a little uninspired. Enlivened by strong harmonies from Volpe on “Eight Days a Week” and “Nowhere Man,” the set gained momentum and spirit.
Royster and his crew obviously put considerable effort into preparing arrangements and vocal parts. It sounded like a fun labor of love.
The intermission featured an electronic mini-set of synth-based renditions from local act Tex!. Mastermind Paolo Licciardi strolled the stage and crooned along with his pre-recorded reworkings of deep Beatles cuts, including “You’re Gonna Lose That Girl,” “Devil In Her Heart,” and “Mr. Moonlight.” His closing number “P.S. I Love You” brought the house down. Licciardi relieved Capo of drum duty afterwards.
Little effort was spent on trying to emulate the visual style of The Beatles, aside from Volpe’s Hofner-shaped bass guitar. Capo’s vintage Ludwig five-piece drum kit — silver-colored, oversized, and with an upside-down bass drum head that said “The Pleasures” — looked like something the drummers from Foghat or Nazareth would have played in 1976 rather than the Ringo-style Ludwigs with the black oyster pearl drum finish (maybe a Foghat/Nazareth tribute is in the works, too).
Looks aside, the band’s technique was right-on for such an endeavor. They had the right feel for the music, and rocked with enthusiastic and authentic respect and adoration.