The snowstorm of January 21 put a stop to many weekend plans for students who instead chose to sit in their rooms sipping hot chocolate. It did not, however, stop faithful fans from reaching the McInnis auditorium to see Beatles cover band Beatlemania Now perform on the night of the 22nd. Almost 190 people showed up.
“That’s a phenomenal turnout on a Sunday night when it’s snowy,” said Shannon Hartsock, director of student activities.
According to Dr. Stephen Gatlin, history professor responsible for inviting the band, there were more tickets bought than actual seats filled.
“Had [everyone] showed, it would have been a full house,” Gatlin said.
Attendance was obviously not the only phenomenon of the night. Students walked away from the concert impressed by how convincing the band was.
Senior Isaac Gillespie, a student of Gatlin’s Beatles Music in Dreams and History capstone course, was taken by the accurate portrayal of each band member.
“Fake George was the real musical edge, but fake Paul was the charmer,” Gillespie said.
Classmate Erin Bond, on the other hand, knew little about the Beatles prior to starting the class. Yet after watching in-class showings of original Ed Sullivan shows featuring the Beatles, even Bond was fascinated with the cover band.
“Their faces and everything were just perfect,” Bond said.
The video showings, Gatlin said, proved great timing, as it gave his students a good visual comparison between the original and cover band.
The concert, he said, also gave his capstone students “a feel for something as basic as what Paul McCartney’s bass sounded like, and a feel for how much sound you can get out of four instruments.”
Though the concert was a requirement for Gatlin’s class of 30, it attracted a large crowd that included non-Eastern students. Michael Price, who was visiting his first-year sister Amari, had seen another Beatles cover band and was able to make a comparison.
“[Beatlemania Now] was actually better,” he said. “They put themselves on the line by playing Yellow Submarine.”
Gatlin agreed, adding that unlike most cover bands, Beatlemania Now went beyond the early Beatles era by performing more complicated music from the Sergeant Pepper tour.
“That’s the kind of material everyone assumes is undoable,” Gatlin said.To add to the accuracy, the band went through multiple costume changes to depict the four major Beatles tours, played era-authentic instruments and hammed it up with humor in between songs.
How musical talent, vocal similarity and physical appearance of a Beatle can all land on one person is a mystery, even to the Beatlemania band members.
“You kind of fall into this line of work in a way because maybe there’s a natural ability there,” said John Perry, who played George Harrison. “I don’t know if it was planned by any of us.”
One by one, the band came together under Beatlemania Now, a company owned by Scot Arch, who plays John Lennon.
“This line-up works well,” said Richard Vacca, who plays the left-handed Paul McCartney. “It’s a good strong look-alike, sound-alike.”
Though the shows may appear flawless to the crowd, the members consider themselves eternal students of the original band.Drummer Eric Smith landed the part of Ringo Starr at the age of 20. “I didn’t even know what I was doing,” he said. “And that’s how it happens, really. You learn as you go.”
Though the band averages 100 shows a year to crowds much larger than what Eastern’s auditorium can hold, they are hopeful about returning. They really enjoyed the Eastern crowd, Gatlin said.
“Of course, everyone is always impressed with Eastern students,” she said.