For years I’ve seen ads for this thing that happens in Portland every November. A Beatles Night, which I presumed was just some cover band playing to drunken revelers who sort of remember some Beatles lyrics.
The Beatles were a soundtrack to my childhood, to my very cellular development as a musical and creative human being. So, the notion of a tribute band wailing through their greatest hits felt like the ultimate sacrilege.
Then I met the man behind this event, @spenceralbee, and realized there might be more. So I dragged Clare and my niece out of the house on a frigid Saturday night to see what this was all about.
The fact that it was sold out should’ve been my first clue. The line spanned two blocks, and it held all ages, genders, socioeconomic statuses, orientations, and levels of hipness. And everyone was in a great mood.
Then the music began. Not just four people dressed up as the Beatles but a whole stage of musicians, of guitarists, bassists, a drummer, Spencer at piano, a horns section and a strings section and guests who flew in from around the country to join in. It was stunning, and it was MUSIC, and it was such a deep, respectful homage by capital-M musicians. They played the Blue Album in its entirety. The night before, they played the whole Red Album. On Sunday they’d perform a whole other set. That’s insane, and the kind of thing you’d only do if you love music and love THIS music and love this event that Spencer and Sean Morin have fostered over the last 16 years.
The tickets were only $19, and when I do the math there is no way any of them got rich off this. So here we have a whole group of musicians who came together, learned 60+ arrangements and performed each only once…just for the love of it.
And I got to stand in a theater of people of all varieties and persuasions, all singing and swaying and smiling to the same music, all agreeing for one night that Jude just needs to take a sad song and make it better, that we can get by with a little help from our friends, that all we need is love.