If you were expecting a group of Beatles look-alikes at Friday evening’s Chrysler Theatre show, “Ones – The Number One Hits of The Beatles”, you may have been a little disappointed. On the other hand, if you went expecting to hear a group of top-notch session musicians accurately recreate the biggest hits of The Fab Four in an entertaining and educational two-hour audio/visual extravaganza, you would have been pleased.
The audience was less than capacity, but enthusiastic older fans who looked as though they would have been the age of the teeny boppers in the audience during those early Sullivan Show performances. A cold wet night outside, it was a good night for some nostalgia and some great musical performances.
Marji from Windsor attended with her friend and their daughters, both Beatles fans. She grew up in Detroit during Beatlemania and saw the band live on five different occasions, Cincinnati, Chicago, Toronto and twice at Detroit’s Olympia, once from the fifth row. “You couldn’t hear a word they sang, only screaming. Our ears would be ringing for hours after the show!” Marji still has all her concert programs and memorabilia from that time and was lucky enough to see them up close leaving from the back of their hotel in Cincinnati.
Producer/writer/guitarist/vocalist Frank Zirone created this show to pay tribute to the number one singles he heard on the radio as a kid growing up in Canada in the 60’s. He wanted to do something different from the typical tribute band and he definitely accomplished that. Employing accomplished session musicians with years of experience performing with the likes of Burton Cummings, Randy Bachman, Rik Emmett among others, and by using period correct guitars, drums and amplifiers that were used in the original recordings, Frank has produced a sonically accurate tribute.
Joining Frank onstage were David Love (guitars and vocals), Greg Wyard (guitar, bass and vocals), Marty Morin (drums, percussion, guitar, vocals), Bruce Nasmith (guitars, keyboards, vocals) and last but not least, Dale Harrison (drums).
Unlike some tributes which use pre-recorded backtracks, Ones uses live string and horn sections. Accompanying this stellar lineup were “The Penny Lane Strings”, Sonia Klimasko on violin, Beth Silver on cello and “The Pepperland Horns”, Lisa Hartl on trumpet and Tara Davidson on saxophone. All of them are accomplished musicians in their own right, with credentials ranging from Juno Award nominations to playing with the likes of Tony Bennett and The National Ballet Of Canada.
The show opened with The Beatles first American Billboard number one hit “I Want To Hold Your Hand” and continued chronologically from 1964 to 1970 – the year of their breakup. The sound was clean and the band was tight, which was expected from a group with this amount of talent and musical background.
Despite not being a look-alike tribute like “Rain” or “The Fab Four”, this show doesn’t lack in visual presentation. On a large screen behind the band, clever video introductions to each song featuring narrator and veteran Toronto radio personality Al Joynes educated and entertained audience members. Superimposed over classic album covers or famous moments in Beatles history, Al would share stories about the history of the song or of The Beatles themselves, often with a good dose of humour. One particular clip that got the mostly older crowd laughing featured Al’s face superimposed over that of John Lennon’s in bed with Yoko Ono during the infamous “bed in” in Amsterdam.
Overall, “Ones” is a show worth seeing, to reminisce of a time when the British Invasion ruled and The Beatles were its Royal Family.