With the Beatles catalog showing amazing legs, Alan Parsons, guiding force behind Abbey Road Studios and this 28-city roadshow, surely had no trouble luring willing participants to offer up live covers of those tried-and-true recordings (many never road-tested by the quartet themselves). And yet, while bearing a retro-rock package resembling Ringo’s ever-recycled All-Starr Band, this talent-laden outfit’s homage also came off as slightly more heartfelt.
The band, including bassist John Entwistle of the Who, Ambrosia’s David Pack, songbird Ann Wilson of Heart and multihyphenate Todd Rundgren, only occasionally found inspired moments that rose above the sheer novelty of witnessing pop and rock artists of this recognition level perform the Liverpudlian canon and each other’s hits. The assembled, at least, were performing tunes that require tonality, craft and other Lennon-McCartney and Harrison values.
Sheet music on stands was prevalent — it was only the second night of the tour — keeping gaffes to a minimum. First of two sets featured an opener of “Magical Mystery Tour,” with the remainder of the hour dedicated to the leaders taking turns on their own material. Wilson was in fine voice on “Crazy on You,” and a rousing “The Real Me” was led by support singer-lead guitarist Godfrey Townsend.
Second hour was wall-to-wall Merseybeat, with the only asterisk attached to McCartney’s solo hit “Maybe I’m Amazed,” which Wilson also nailed. Spectrum ranged from troubadours of folk (Rundgren and Parsons on “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” and “Blackbird,” respectively) to full-band rave-ups (Rundgren with Rickenbacker guitar and vocals on “Revolution,” the Wilson-fronted “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey” and “I’m Down”). Perf was capped with the apropos “Golden Slumbers”/”Carry That Weight”/”The End” song cycle form “Abbey Road.”
Smoke, lights and superfluous, often too literal side-projected vid images lent little to the proceedings, but Beatles music never portended rock opera or Broadway productions, anyway.
A Walk Down Abbey Road plays the Westbury Music Fair in New York on July 19.