Twice Bitten by the Beatlemania Bug

The double-album set had been an unexpected gift.

The year was 1982. I was 14 years old.

My sister had gone to a show in Boston with her boyfriend and bought the soundtrack for me. The show was "Beatlemania." It was a concert, really, that featured four musicians who looked and sounded like John, Paul, George and Ringo. They wore costumes that reflected the "Fab Four" at various stages of their career and played their biggest hits, from their early mop-top shaking days, into their Sergeant Pepper psychedelia, and then into their long-haired hippiedom.

The music was classic. The albums were fantastic. I played them over and over and over again.

One year later, for my 15th birthday, my mother and father surprised me with a trip to New York City to see the show. Seeing the music come to life on that stage—music I had listened to for countless hours over the previous year—was mesmerizing. I have been a huge Beatles fan ever since.

When our entertainment reporter told me that "Beatlemania" was coming to the Upper Cape, I was thrilled. I was able to get two tickets for the show, which was last Friday at Barnstable High School. My wife likes the Beatles, but I would not go so far to say that she's a fan. My oldest daughter, Lily, however, is. I play several of the Beatles' tunes on my guitar and Lily sings along.

That was one of the reasons why I asked Lily to accompany me to the show. The other reason is that she is 15 years old, the precise age that I was when I was bitten by the Beatlemania bug. My parents had shared the experience with me at that age; now I would share it with Lily.

We got to the show early to make sure we had good seats in the auditorium: 12th row, center. We killed time before the music started by playing hangman in my reporter's notebook, using Beatles-theme words and phrases.

For a moment, I was 15 again. My mom, who died the year before Lily was born, and my father, who died back in April, were alive once again, sitting right next to me. All was right in the world.

The house lights finally dimmed and the band took the stage. These were different performers from the ones I saw back in the 1980s, but they looked just as I remembered them, dressed in matching gray suits, white shirts, and black ties. The actor playing George Harrison looked the best, in my opinion. His guitar work was fantastic. Take it from a guitar player, the real George Harrison did some pretty tricky finger work on the fret board. And this guy was masterful.

As the band played, I could not stop smiling. By the second chorus, I was enraptured. The music was transformative. For a moment, I was 15 again. My mom, who died the year before Lily was born, and my father, who died back in April, were alive once again, sitting right next to me. All was right in the world.


I looked over at Lily, who was smiling, too, and singing along. She was loving it, which delighted me. She noticed me looking at her and beamed. "They're awesome," she gushed. Yup, they're awesome, all right. So are you, I thought to myself, for loving the music that your father loves. Her favorite song Friday was "Hey Jude." I really liked "Hide Your Love Away," with John Lennon on guitar and Ringo on the tambourine. They really rocked "Revolution" and the vocal harmonies on their earlier tunes were spot-on.

The Barnstable High School band and chorus joined the band on stage for a few songs, including "Yesterday," and several of the songs off the Sergeant Pepper's album. They were a talented bunch of teens, and proceeds from Friday's show will benefit them and the rest of the high school's music department. The concert organizer said Friday that the performance raised more than $12,000.

I know I'm gushing. To be entirely truthful, Friday's performance wasn't perfect. I noticed a half-dozen flubbed guitar riffs; a missed cue here and there on the drums. George Harrison had to fix his wig a few times during the first set, which was a bit distracting. The actor playing Ringo would have looked more the part had he lost a few pounds.

But none of that mattered, really. The audience was enthralled. People everywhere in the auditorium were singling along. They clapped to the beat. One couple in the front row got up and slow-danced to the song "This Boy." When the concert came to a close with a rousing rendition of "Twist and Shout," everyone was on their feet.

As we walked out of the high school we—father and daughter—agreed that the music had moved us. That's what mattered most. That's what music is supposed to do. And the thought that the money raised would help enhance the musical experience for youngsters at Barnstable High School made it all that much sweeter.


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