Christmas with The Beatles tribute band at Wheeler Opera House
IF YOU GO …
What: The Fab Four: The Ultimate Tribute
Where: Wheeler Opera House
When: Tuesday, Dec. 25, 6:30 p.m.
How much: $60-$70
Tickets: Wheeler box office; aspenshowtix.com
So this is Christmas, and what have you done?
The Fab Four, billed as “the ultimate tribute” to The Beatles, spent its 21st year on the road performing as the pop music legends. The band will cap its 2018 with a Christmas Day show at the Wheeler Opera House.
The tribute band takes audiences on a chronological journey through The Beatles career, opening with the iconic Ed Sullivan Show era of mop-tops and black suits with songs like “She Loves You” and “I Wanna Hold Your Hand,” through the psychedelic “Sgt. Pepper’s” years and the coda of “Let It Be.”
Over the course of a two-hour show, they do three costume changes and play two dozen of the band’s best-known songs.
Keeping The Beatles’ legacy alive in performance for the past two decades has been an honor, Ardy Sarraf, the band’s Paul McCartney, said in a recent interview during a tour break in southern California.
“We’re playing the best music ever written,” he said. “For us, it’s like being a member of an orchestra and playing Beethoven every night. How can you go wrong?”
The four members create all of The Beatles’ sounds in the show live — with strings and horns played through keyboard effects — without any recorded sound or lip-syncing. The band has earned a reputation among the best of the countless Beatles tribute bands for its meticulous musicianship.
Sarraf even learned to play the bass and guitar left-handed in order to perform McCartney’s parts faithfully. The Fab Four’s Gavin Pring, a Liverpool native and a dead ringer for George Harrison, wears brown contact lenses to match Harrison’s eye color.
“That’s our dedication,” Sarraf said. “For us the devil is in the details, and we’re very detail-oriented in the sound and the look. It’s really important.”
They’ve played just about every song in The Beatles catalog, including some, like “A Day in the Life,” that The Beatles themselves never played in concert.
Early on, The Fab Four earned acclaim with a four-year Las Vegas residency, but these days the band tours internationally and constantly, playing three to four concerts per week.
They’ve never before performed on Christmas Day, however.
The Fab Four released a Christmas album in 2012. Titled “Hark,” it took lyrics from holiday classics and set them to Beatles instrumentals. The arrangements, for example, set “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” to the Beatles’ “Help,” “Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer” to “I Saw Her Standing There” and “”Feliz Navidad” to “And I Love Her.”
The band plans to include a few of those in the Aspen Christmas show, and is in the early stages of planning a Manheim Steamroller-styled holiday extravaganza for Christmas season shows in years to come. (The Beatles themselves also released an annual Christmas song or message from 1963 to 1969, collected on the album “The Beatles Christmas Record Box” last year.)
Performing as McCartney for more than two decades has given Sarraf an appreciation for the legend’s songwriting. While John Lennon often gets credit for the most poetic Beatles lyrics, and McCartney is thought of as more of a melody maker, Sarraf thinks that’s reductive.
“His songwriting is as diverse as John’s,” he said. “They were a two-headed monster.”
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The Aspen Music Festival’s Harris Hall recitals and “Met: Live in HD” broadcasts will run in February and March, with tickets on sale Thursday, Jan. 27.