Last night I had the pleasure of seeing the Broadway show RAIN, a Beatles tribute band, at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. It felt like the Beatles were back for another concert in New Orleans 46 years after their concert in City Park. RAIN was a wonderful experience- it felt like I was transported back in time to an actual Beatles concert.
The set was fairly simple. It consisted of the band along with antique looking speakers flanked by two large screens at either end of the stage. These screens broadcasted age-specific images based on the set RAIN were playing at the time. That is, the concert started when the Beatles first came to the US. The screens showed opening credits to the Ed Sullivan Show, and when the curtain raised, the “Applause” signs were lit up and the audience was made to feel like we were back in February of 1964 on Ed Sullivan’s set. They also showed imagery specific to the song. As we moved into the 70s there were trippy looking images on each screen to accompany the fake smoke engulfing the stage. At other times during RAIN’s performance of over 200 Beatles classics, these screens showed screaming fans from actual Beatles shows. These were especially hilarious- you saw girls fainting from seeing the Beatles live at Shea stadium and people trying to storm the field while police carried them away. You could literally feel the emotion of the fans and could understand from the music in front of you as well as the multitude of fans on the screens and around you what it must have actually been like to see the Beatles live. The screens also featured political demonstrations and famous images of the time to make the audience further feel that they were going back in time.
The location was superb. It is always a treat to attend a performance at the Mahalia Jackson Theater. The theater is located where the old French Opera House used to be before it burned down. While it sustained severe hurricane damage from Katrina, the theater was re-opened in 2009 and has been the home to many magnificent shows since then. This wonderful venue helps put New Orleans back on the map for touring shows- the Mahalia Jackson Theater will actually be home to three other upcoming Broadway shows!
As far as the music goes, while I was never able to attend an actual Beatles concert, the RAIN performers were fantastic!! Based on cds I’ve heard and videos of live performances by the actual Beatles, RAIN came pretty close to the sound, feel, and movements of the Beatles. Overall, the concert gave me an appreciation of how much the Beatles did for their time period, and what an amazing experience it must have been to see them live. It also reminded me of how, unlike many other musical groups, the Beatles are truly timeless and appeal to a variety of different people regardless of age, sex, or ethnicity. At one point during the show, the RAIN performers asked that any audience members under 21 stand up and I was surprised to see how many there were! They recognized these youths and encouraged them to keep the music going. I would definitely love to see RAIN again! I think I can speak for everyone when I say that the only downside of their show was that it was difficult to stay in my seat! If you love the Beatles and want to go to a fantastic concert, consider seeing RAIN perform at one of their 4 concerts in New Orleans.