Beatles Foursome, Fab Faux, Gets It Right at the Mahaiwe

August 1, 2016 GMT

GREAT BARRINGTON >> The beauty of the Beatles is their universality. Everyone reading this review has sung at least one of their songs, either in the car, or in the shower or onstage.

But while it’s easy to sing those songs, performing them is another matter. Aided and overseen by the late, great George Martin, the Beatles played simple-sounding songs that bristled with layers of production and featured complex harmonies. The most complex simple songs in pop.

And that is the beauty of the Fab Faux, a quintet of musicians who performed at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center on Saturday.

“We want to play these songs right,” said bassist Will Lee to the audience on Saturday. “That’s not always easy.”

No, it’s not. But the Fab Faux pulled it off. Lee, drummer Rich Pagano, guitarist/keyboardist Jimmy Vivino, guitarist Frank Agnello and guitarist/keyboardist Petruzzelli are all crack New York City studio musicians.

Co-founder Lee, for example, played bass with Paul Shaffer’s band on the David Letterman Show. His friend and band co-founder Vivino is the guitarist and musical director for the Conan O’Brien Show. Together, they pulled together three other pros in 1993 to start the Fab Faux.

The band does not wear wigs or matching grey suits. They just come out a play the music.

On Saturday, the first set recreated the album “A Hard Day’s Night” in its entirety, in the sequence on which the songs appeared on the original album.

The opening “twang!” of that signature chord to open the title tune signalled that the evening would be a fun one. Lee handled the harmonica solo on “I Should Have Known Better” with ease. Pagano’s drumming helped the casual onlooker understand that Beatles drummer Ringo Starr made a hard job look easy.

First set highlights included the title song and “Should Have Known,” as well as the harmonies on “Tell Me Why,” including that high falsetto line, “If there’s anything I can do-o-o-o.” Not easy to do.

The second set focused partly on songs from the Beatles’ later career, many of which the group never performed live. These included “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “I Am The Walrus,” all songs with complex arrangements that include multiple types of instruments.

All five musicians sing, which made the harmonies on songs such as “Paperback Writer,” “That Boy” and “Nowhere Man” so fluid.

Other highlights were Petruzzelli’s scorching guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and a simmering, sweet version of “Here Comes the Sun.”

The big finish featured Lee scampering throughout the house (including a run up to the balcony) on an extended version of “Get Back” and the inevitable, but thoroughly enjoyable singalong at the end of the encore, “Hey Jude.”

Contact Derek Gentile at 413-496-6251