Pete Best, the original drummer responsible for adding the beat to The Beatles act, brought the Pete Best Band to the Sellersville Theater in Sellersville, Pennsylvania, on Friday, July 2, 2004. The Sellersville Theater itself is a wonderful example of Victorian style architecture. Kudos to house sound engineer Carl Lichtner who mixed the sound flawlessly.
The dual drumming of Pete Best and his younger brother Roag Best is a vital partnership that enhances the band's live sound. PBB vocalist Chris Cavanagh is an engaging singer who makes shy audiences feel welcome. Mark Hay is lead guitarist, Phil Melia is rhythm guitarist, and Paul Parry handles bass guitar.
The group is capable of reproducing the familiar excitement once felt by Beatles fans originally when the Liverpool lads were galvanizing their sound on an unnoticed Hamburg stage that would later snare the ears of the world's youth. Their extensive repertoire began with "Slow Down", a 1958 Larry Williams classic. The swift rocker prepared the venue for an evening of straight-ahead rock'n'roll.
The energy level of the PBB captured the audience's attention with "One After 909". The guitar parts meshed together for maximum impact on this classic Lennon rocker. With Pete taking the lead on drums for "P.S. I Love You", Cavanagh, Melia and Parry all harmonized on this Beatles B-side originally released in October 1962.
Pete Best was introduced by Cavanagh. Appearing from behind his drumkit, he chatted about "My Bonnie", a 1961 German import single that brought the struggling band to the attention of the late Brian Epstein. Epstein worked in a Liverpool department store and would eventually unleash The Beatles upon an unsuspecting world stage. Melia began with a mellow vocal, which was roughed over by Cavanagh once Roag spiked the tempo.
"Besame Mucho" highlighted the combined drum assault by the Best Brothers. An unreleased demo version with Pete sitting on the skins from June 1962, surfaced on the first Anthology volume in 1995. The PBB sounded like a British garage band thrashing about on this thrilling rocker.
The Harrison-Lennon instrumental from 1961, "Cry For A Shadow", ensued as an intense band jam. Hay and Melia traded guitar solos to generate audience excitement. "September In The Rain" is a personal favorite of Cavanagh's. The moderate tempo was infused with fierce guitar additives courtesy of Melia's wawa bar.
"Why (Can't You Love Me Again)", originally recorded by Tony Sheridan with The Beatles on support, was sung by Hay. The pop ballad was punched up, adding intensity during the chorus. Melia took his turn on vocals with "Some Other Guy". This hip jam, popularized in Liverpool by The Beatles, cranked with boundless energy on stage. The PBB's guitar-thrust arrangement is spot-on.
Pete was present behind the drums in 1962 for the demo of Lennon's "Hello Little Girl". The group's spirited harmonies aided Melia's lead vocal. Cavanagh sang lead vocals on "Like Dreamers Do", a McCartney demo from the same January 1962 Decca audition. The teaming of Pete's drumming and Parry's bass led the groove on this unfamiliar Beatles classic.
The momentous crowd-pleaser, "I Saw Her Standing There", immediately ignited audience excitement. Beatles fans went wild with delight, dancing away the years to enjoy a memorable moment when all things were Fab. The incendiary band-jam notched up the intensity during Hay's lead guitar solo at the bridge.
Cavanagh belted his vocals on "Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey", welcoming the crowd to join in on the call-out chorus after they stood up in unison. As the band kicked the coda into a climatic jam, an eruption in both enthusiasm and applause bathed the band on stage. The PBB took a well deserved bow.
For their lone encore, Cavanagh sang a tense take of "Johnny B. Goode". The animated audience greeted the introduction of the band member with resounding approval. Upon reprising the melody, Cavanagh instructed the gals and then the guys to carry the chorus before a crescendo burst brought the exhausting evening to an end.
After the popular performance, Pete Best emerged afterwards to conduct a meet and greet with the fans standing out in the theater lobby. He signed autographs on Beatles memorabilia and politely posed for photographs. Pete is having the time of his life, making himself and the music he participated in creating, come alive once again on stage.
The three Best brothers authored The Beatles: The True Beginnings, a comprehensive book revealing their family's close connection with The Beatles. The Casbah Coffee Club, launched in the basement of their childhood Liverpool home, is where The Quarrymen debuted in August 1959. Beatles fans will be able to visit this new tourist attraction that will host a recording a studio, welcoming musicians to record at this historic venue.
Beatles folklore places Pete at the Cavern Club, in Hamburg, on the Decca Audition tapes, BBC broadcasts, and Parlophone studio demos. His 24 month stint as a Beatle is legendary, having stabilized the band. Best gave them a much needed rhythm foundation to develop their original material, which eventually overpowered all other recording acts on Top 40 radio playlists in 1964.
Sellersville setlist: Slow Down * What I'd Say * One After 909 * Please Mister Postman * P.S. I Love You * My Bonnie * Besame Mucho * Ain't She Sweet * Cry For A Shadow * September In The Rain * Roll Over Beethoven * Sweet Georgia Brown * Why (Can't You Love Me Again) * Some Other Guy * Money * Hello Little Girl * Like Dreamers Do * Till There Was You * Long Tall Sally * I Saw Her Standing There * Twist And Shout * Kansas City/Hey, Hey, Hey, Hey * Encore: Johnny B. Goode
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to the Beatles Beat
The Pete Best Band delivers infectious entertainment
by Timothy Tilghman