By Punch Preview Correspondent Lindsey Clark
I’ve heard plenty of Beatles’ songs covered at live shows (including that time I saw Sir Paul himself perform two hours worth of them at his recent concert at Nationals Park), but seeing Classic Albums Live last week at The Hamilton was a completely different experience. Rather than billing themselves as a “cover band,” CAL recreates classic rock albums – from the Beatles to Zeppelin to Fleetwood Mac – note for note, song for song. The Beatles’ 1969 album, Abbey Road, is one of my favorites, so I was especially looking forward to seeing (and hearing) how the band would pull off some of the tracks, as they’re not exactly easy to reproduce on stage.
From the first note (the album opens with “Come Together”), I was impressed with the attention to detail that CAL puts into their performance – not a single sound slipped through the cracks, from the crickets chirping in the intro to “Sun King” to the banging anvil (replicated on the stage with the help of a cow bell) of “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer.” Even the all-too-sudden silence that abruptly ends “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” was just the way it sounds on Abbey Road. The track – which closes out side one – is one of the two on the album I tend to listen to on repeat (the other being “Oh! Darling” just in case you were dying to know), and I’ve never heard it live before. At over seven minutes, it’s the Beatles’ second longest recording (“Revolution 9″ clocks in at over eight), and CAL did the song justice – the instruments play heavy, and woven in with the white noise that wraps itself around the repeating guitar riff towards the song’s end, it was just about enough to convince me that it could have been the real thing. Aside from the musical roles of John, Paul, George and Ringo, the CAL band also included a string and horn section as well as a keyboard. As the Beatles moved from the days of mania and mop tops into maharishis and experimenting in the studio, their sound became more and more elaborate and the fact that at one point there were nine musicians on stage at the Hamilton is a testament to exactly how complex of an album Abbey Road is. We were also treated to a second set of Beatles’ hits from the early days to the end – songs like “No Reply,” “This Boy,” “The Long and Winding Road,” and “I Am The Walrus” had the audience on their feet for two standing ovations. Proof that Classic Albums Live is anything but a cover band.
CAL is currently touring the US and Canada and is celebrating ten years of reproducing some of the greatest classic rock albums out. Next time they come through town, I highly recommend you check them out – especially if, like me, you missed out on the chance to see the bands back in the day. The Hamilton has a great lineup of upcoming shows that you can find here -including The Dirty Dozen Brass Band (9/12), The Funky Meters (9/30), and an acoustic set by Grouplove (10/02).
As the Punch Premiere Correspondent, Lindsey covers all things film and theater related. When not writing for Pamela’s Punch, Lindsey serves as an Executive Assistant at the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities (www.pcah.gov). Aside from writing and seeing as much theater as possible, Lindsey enjoys the arts, live music, spending QT with her dog, Lincoln, and being little sister to fellow Punch Correspondant Niki Clark. Follow her on twitter @lindseykayclark. Contact Lindsey at firstname.lastname@example.org.