If there is such a thing as boomer heaven, this is probably what it looks and sounds like.
“Let It Be,” a musical stage tribute to the Beatles, opened a six-day, eight-performance run at Bass Hall on Tuesday, and it is even better than you might “Imagine.”
The show is fundamentally a concert. The first act covers the Beatles’ career, from “The Ed Sullivan Show” to “Abbey Road.” John (Michael Gagliano), Paul (Neil Candelora), George (J.T. Curtis) and Ringo (Chris McBurney) ease through number after number (more than 30 Beatles tunes are presented over the course of the show) with the aid of “fifth Beatle” Daniel A. Weiss, who fills the gaps with synthesizers.
Visual enhancement is provided by screens on either side of the stage (mounted on mock-ups of old radios and televisions) and behind the band. The images projected vary quite a bit in quality and appropriateness, but many of them work well. In addition to the band’s world-changing appearance on the Sullivan show, iconic locations such as Shea Stadium and the Apple Studios rooftop are visited. Time and place are often further set by costume and hair changes.
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Among the standout numbers are old favorites “Twist and Shout” and “Day Tripper,” and several later songs that the Beatles never did live, including “Strawberry Fields Forever” and “A Day in the Life.”
That career-surveying first half is a satisfying sampling of the band’s output. But this show really takes off in its second half, when it is announced that the concept will now shift to an imagined reunion of the band on John Lennon’s 40th birthday, Oct. 9, 1980.
In this second act, the band performs songs the Beatles made famous together and individually. Two of the most outstanding numbers in this portion are Harrison compositions: “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” which Curtis righteously shreds, and “Here Comes the Sun,” which features some wonderful playing and harmonies from Curtis, Gagliano and Candelora.
There are also excellent renditions of Beatles solo efforts, including “Starting Over,” “Band on the Run” and “What is Life.”
But perhaps the single most impressive moment in the show comes as the curtain rises on the second act, and Curtis, Gagliano and Candelora do an a cappella opening for “Because” that is as breathtakingly beautiful as it is precise.
On the whole, Gagliano comes the closest to both looking and sounding like his Beatle. Curtis is a superb guitarist, and sounds like Harrison on some of his tunes. Candelora is a solid performer, but he seldom makes you think he is McCartney (even though he plays his bass left-handed). McBurney is an exceptionally able drummer who answers the bell well enough on the rare occasions when he is asked to sing.
So there was a lot of peace and love in Bass Hall on Tuesday for this Performing Arts Fort Worth presentation. The only disappointing thing about the evening was that there were so few millennials in attendance. If they would turn out for this show, they might come to understand why a Beatles concert means that a splendid time is guaranteed for all.