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Rain tribute group keeps the Beatles alive, 50-plus years later

Digital First Media, @GraffonMusic

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Being a Beatles tribute band is always challenging. But this year, amidst 50th anniversary celebrations of the group's arrival in the U.S., those demands are even greater -- although for the better, according to Steve Landes of the group Rain.

"This 50th anniversary has brought the whole Beatles thing to the forefront, of course," says Landes, who co-founded Rain and is the group's John Lennon surrogate. "That awareness factor is always nice. We've been fortunate in that attendance is always good, but I'm sure it gives it a bit of a bump.

"There's going to be a lot of little 50th anniversaries this year. We celebrated the Ed Sullivan performance and their arrival to America. Soon it'll be the 50th anniversary of their first film, 'A Hard Day`s Night,' and then the first concert tour in America. It's just a nice little reminder of all the things they did."

Accompanying these commemorations, of course, is plenty of footage of the real thing. That, too, puts a different kind of onus on Rain and like-minded bands when it comes their turn to try to be the Beatles on stage each night.

"It's the kind of thing where people could be seeing the original footage, seeing the Beatles over and over on TV, and a half-hour later they're coming to see our show and having that fresh on their minds," Landes acknowledges. "Our show kind of recreates those career high points, so I guess it could be a surreal kind of moment where we're celebrating the real thing by completely re-creating it on stage.

"But there's always pressure. There's something about the Beatles; you can portray just about any other historical character -- a political figure or an entertainer or movie star -- and have a little bit of leeway and put your own spin on it, but when it comes to the Beatles people feel such a connection to not only their music but their character and what they mean to people. Those are huge shoes to fill."

Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles performs at 8 p.m. Saturday at the Fox Theatre, 2211 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $30-$70. Call 313-471-6611 or visit www.olympiaentertainment.com.

Web Site: www.olympiaentertainment.com

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