The Pete Best Band appeared as the cabaret act at the Corton Classic Resort on the remote East Coast of England in Corton, U.K., on Saturday, February 7, 2004. This exact date was the Fortieth Anniversary of The Beatles landing in America, which commenced the British Invasion lead by the Fab Four from Liverpool.
The PBB recreates the embryonic Beatles sound with material the group played as covers in its repertoire from their Hamburg era. Both Pete Best and his younger brother Roag Best handle drums in the band. Rounding out the unit are vocalist Chris Cavanagh, bassist Dave Deevey, lead guitarist Mark Hay, and rhythm guitarist Phil Melia.
Much more than a Beatles cover band, the Pete Best Band has a musical pedigree other tribute bands cannot come close to matching. Fortunately, there are several early Lennon & McCartney compositions that are staple numbers featured in their Mersey Beat set.
After the introduction "The man who put the beat in The Beatles", the group launched their set with the Larry Williams number, "Slow Down". Cavanagh and Hay both shared vocals, plus the dual drumming of the Best brothers team gave the song an extra boost.
With the crowd clapping in time, Pete Best walked out from behind his drumkit to greet the appreciative audience. The band then segued into "What I'd Say", the first hit for Ray Charles in 1959. Arguably, the PBB improved Lennon's "One After 909", infusing a modern rock-edge to the number. Hay ripped into his lead guitar solo, and Deevey underscored his choice bass playing.
Roag's drumming intro got "P.S. I Love You" going with Hay on lead vocals. Pete shared humorous comments about the story behind the Tony Sheridan single "My Bonnie", which generated the attention of their future manager Brian Epstein. Melia sang lead on a spirited version of this song that ended on Pete's brief solo beat.
Melia sang lead vocals on the pop-driven "Hello Little Girl". Hay's fierce guitar lead kicked off the Harrison-fave "Roll Over Beethoven" with Cavanagh on vocals. A major highlight of the evening was Cavanagh's vocal on "Some Other Guy", a song Lennon immortalized on a 1962 black & white clip of The Beatles live on stage at the Cavern Club.
Cavanagh dedicated "Like Dreamers Do" 'to Tim' > Me! - announcing it was my birthday. Deevey played a brief solo on bass guitar of "Happy Birthday To You". Their cool take showcased guitar bursts with Pete taking the lead beat. Unfortunately, this overlooked McCartney classic was never officially recorded by The Beatles.
Not only was February 7th the Fortieth Anniversary of The Beatles' 1964 British Invasion, that specific Saturday was coincidentally my birthday. It was a phenomenal birthday to spend it with a Beatle in performance. I arrived at the resort as the band were unloading their equipment and was introduced to Pete Best.
Pete was very kind to welcome me to the performance on my birthday. The manager of the Corton Classic Resort extended an invitation to me to join the band for dinner prior to the gig, which included an engaging conversation on modern events with Chris.
After the performance, I was invited up to the band suite for a mellow after-party. Pete approached me and stated, "You've got to have a drink for your birthday", and proceeded to mix me the official Beatles Hamburg beverage - Scotch & Coke; not once, but twice! Pete was exceedingly kind to fix me a toast on my birthday. Many thanks to Pete, Roag and the band for an incredible birthday memory!
Corton setlist: Slow Down * What I'd Say * One After 909 * Please Mister Postman * P.S. I Love You * My Bonnie * Besame Mucho * Hello Little Girl * September In The Rain * Roll Over Beethoven * Sweet Georgia Brown * Long Tall Sally * Some Other Guy * Like Dreamers Do * I Saw Her Standing There * Twist And Shout * Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey * Encore: Johnny B. Goode
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the beat four decades later
A Birthday Serenade courtesy of the Pete Best Band
by Timothy Tilghman