No April Fools joke here. The Pete Best Band were deep in their element. An estimated 3,000 fans crowded into the Imperial Ballroom in Secaucus, New Jersey, on Saturday, April 1, 2006, to enjoy a former Beatle doing exactly what he does 'best', playing Beatles music live on stage.
Pete Best and company were launching the first leg of their Spring 2006 U.S. Tour. The group have been in the studio recording a new album. No new tunes have been introduced in their repertoire as yet. The new Pete Best Band studio album is now projected to be released later in the year.
Joining Best on drums is younger brother Roag Best. Chris Cavanagh is an engaging vocalist. Backing vocalists include Tony Flynn and Phil Melia on guitars, and Paul Parry on bass who all take a turn at lead vocals. Maybe one day, the fans will be able to coax Pete to sing a lead himself again!
The group delivered an abbreviated set smack in the middle of the afternoon. Before the gig got underway, Pete Best greeted the audience and reminisced about trying to mug a British sailor with John Lennon back during their Hamburg days.
"Slow Down" kicked off the performance with clips from the Best Of The Beatles DVD projected onto a screen behind the band. Both Cavanagh and Parry sang harmony lead vocals on the John Lennon classic "One After 909".
Parry sang lead vocals on a Beatles B-side from 1962, "P.S. I Love You", with Cavanagh providing harmony support. Pete Best was introduced to step forward. Best cheerfully talked about a German single The Beatles recorded as backing musicians in 1961, that eventually generated interest in the band back home in Liverpool.
The song was "My Bonnie". Melia began the number with a mellow vocal intro on solo electric guitar that segued into a hard-edged rock version with Cavanagh taking over lead vocals. Parry's forward bass solo was aided by the crowd as they joined in on the chorus and clapped along in time.
"Besame Mucho" was another strong rocker sung by Cavanagh with Melia adding harmony support. No Pete Best Band performance would be complete without a rousing rendition of "I Saw Her Standing There". Fans became animated, and Melia's lead guitar solo ignited excitement.
The Pete Best Band had the crowd standing on their feet during an intense romp through "Twist And Shout". During the bridge, Cavanagh rallied harmony hollering from the crowd. A fierce jam on "Roll Over Beethoven" closed their stage engagement. Parry's swinging bass lines culminated in an abrupt climax, leaving fans clamoring for more.
Beatles fans of all ages should make a point to catch the Pete Best Band live in performance. The gifted group has an uncanny ability to recreate the original sound of the embryonic Beatles from Hamburg and the Cavern Club when the lads were serving up raw Rock'n Roll. Not to be missed, the Pete Best Band is returning for a second Spring Tour leg in the U.S. next month.
Secaucus setlist: Slow Down * What I'd Say * One After 909 * Money * Please Mister Postman * P.S. I Love You * My Bonnie * Besame Mucho * Sweet Georgia Brown * I Saw Her Standing There * Twist And Shout * Roll Over Beethoven
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Beatle harmonies and memories
The Pete Best Band revives the Hamburg raves
by Timothy Tilghman