Sunday, September 24, 2017

The Fab Faux: Repertory Rock and Roll

Despite the growing popularity of so called tribute bands, in some circles the mere mention of them sometimes elicits groans and shudders of revulsion.  Among fellow musicians especially, contempt prior to investigation is the rule.  This is partly because tribute bands are increasingly dominant in the marketplace, sometimes edging out acts that play original music.  I have experienced more Beatles tribute bands than most, partly because of a love of the music, but also because of a musician grandson who also really digs the Beatles and Ringo Starr in particular.  From what I have experienced, Beatles tributes typically strive for the look of the real Beatles, which sometimes involves ill-fitting Pepper costumes, wigs, and vain attempts at cheeky Liverpudlian accents, and perhaps a modicum of workmanlike bar band competence with the repertoire.  As an exercise in nostalgia, it might be fun the first time, but after a while acts of this ilk often strike me as "phoned in" and maybe even cynical.  Not so with New York City's Fab Faux, whom I would call the world's only Beatles repertory group, with a mission akin to Preservation Hall Jazz Band, Mingus Dynasty, or even sometime Jazz at Lincoln Center.  What these outfits all have in common is that they provide access to vital important music that is no longer available in a live context.  This is not so different from the many fine European Classical orchestras who would probably be horrified if they were to be referred to as a Handel or Bach tribute.  I think of the FF as a repertory group because of their ability to put across a loving, respectful performance of the greatest repertoire in all of Rock and Roll history.  what's more it's the entire repertoire of Beatles music, including works that the Beatles couldn't and didn't perform live.  To hear a Fab Faux concert is to hear high caliber versions of the Beatles book, with all the live energy and presence intact, and without the hype and costumes.  It's clear that they love the music and that they have researched it with an archaeological intensity.  It is beyond note for note, and with a quintet of multi-instrumentalists, and access to the now digital electronic innovations of Abbey Road in place, the Beatles canon is in capable hands.  I have experienced the Fabs in concert many times now, and I believe they are providing an essential service in making available the best live Beatles experience anywhere.

Richard Mayer


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