The interactive Beatles experience takes cues from audience

Submitted photo Billy McQuigan, co-founder of Yeasterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience, plays to the audience.

Their songs are still as relevant, and fresh today as they were when The Fab Four recorded them in the 1960s.

In a word — timeless.

The Beatles were harbingers of modern recording. Techniques, like multi-track recording, automatic double tracking, and overdubbing were pioneered by them using a simple four-track recorder. Those techniques are catalogued in The Complete Beatles Recording Sessions: The Official Story of the Abbey Road Years 1962-1970. There have been many Beatles tribute bands since the 1970s. One of the most notable was Beatlemania which ran on Broadway from 1977 to 1979 at the Wintergarden Theatre. And then there is The Beatles Love — a Cirque du Soleil show at The Mirage Casino, on the Las Vegas strip. So the interest is there because Beatles songs speak to people. Former Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr still perform Beatles songs when they tour with their bands.

We’ve glimpsed at yesterday, so now let’s look at today.

But Billy McQuigan pays homage to people’s memories of Beatles’ songs

McQuigan, who co-founded Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience takes a unique look at performing Beatles’ songs. The band, McQuigan said, doesn’t have costume changes, doesn’t play the songs in chronological order, but rather, takes a cue or many from the audience.

“We take one hundred percent requests from the audience. “We are paying tribute to people’s memory of The Beatles. That’s what makes our show unique,” McQuigan said.

The performer said that audience members fill out request cards before the show starts. On the cards audience members fill out three things: their name, their favorite Beatles song and the reason why they chose that song. The band collects the cards just before the show begins, and a set list is created based upon the songs chosen by the audience for that show. The band members then use the reasons why the songs were chosen as part of the narrative during the show. When watching a show, audience members can draw on their own experiences to make new experiences.

“That (the stories behind the songs) kind of personalizes it (the show). It’s kind of a dialogue with the audience.

No show is the same, McQuigan noted.

“It’s kind of like this highwire act,” McQuigan said of the minutes just before the show.

He also said that because the band is taking 100 percent requests, the band has to know how to perform every Beatles song.

“And you have had to rehearse them all within the past couple of years,” he added.

There are more than 220 Beatles songs.

“Every audience takes on its own character and has its own vibe,” he said.

McQuigann said he has known The Beatles songs his whole life. “It’s almost like a second language,” he said.

Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience is in its 16th year, and will be at The Reg Lenna Center For The Arts, 116 E. Third St., March 23 at 7:30 p.m., and the most requested song, McQuigan said is “Hey Jude” followed by “Here Comes the Sun.”

McQuigan said the band began in the mid1990s, shortly after his father’s death. His father was a big Beatles fan, and passed it on to his sons. Billy, Matthew, and Ryan took what they learned and used it to help heal themselves with the passing of their father, and now they all perform in Yesterday and Today: The Interactive Beatles Experience.

“It’s the glue that keeps us all together. We’re telling the story of us as huge fans of the music,” McQuigan said.

The band members keep as close as they can to the original arrangements.

“We may not look like them, but if you close your eyes, we can sound really, really close to them. My brothers and I have been singing these songs since we were little kids, so the harmony parts are kind of our thing,” McQuigan said.

Because it brings back great memories of his childhood, his favorite song to perform is “Let It be.”

For more information on the show visit relenna.com.


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