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Beatlemania Now

Cable music channel VH-1 broadcast a series called "The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time" last week.

Topping the list, as they have on past occasions, were The Beatles.While that might not seem surprising, it is worth noting that the list was compiled from a poll of about 200 current musical artists, most of whom weren't even alive when The Beatles broke up 40 years ago.To this day, the impact the Fab Four had on modern music and culture is immense, which is why they keep popping up at the top of such "Best of" lists.It is also the reason for the success of the original Beatlemania, which paid tribute to the Lads from Liverpool and the way their leading the British Invasion transformed the tumultuous decade of the 1960's.From its beginnings on Broadway in 1977 to its roll out to the masses on The Beatlemania Bus and Truck Tour, the show remains a popular reminder of what the music of John, Paul, George and Ringo has done to the collective consciousness.Beatlemania Now made another appearance at Penn's Peak in Jim Thorpe on Saturday night, taking the audience along on the magical ride that was The Beatles' career.The basic concept of the show remains the same, with a Beatles tribute band performing in front of a video screen that shows tidbits from the 60's, from commercials to newsreels and other interesting snippets. It begins with The Beatles' historic appearance on the Ed Sullivan show in February, 1964, and uses the actual Sullivan introduction to bring the band onstage.Beatlemania Now follows the band through its stylistic periods with a number of costume changes. The four moptops with suits and ties appear during the Sullivan era, followed by the Nehru jackets from the 1965 Shea Stadium concert, the colorful Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band uniforms and the more individual, everyday garb from the cover of the "Abbey Road" album.This time, a few extra costume changes were added as well, including military uniforms for a ripping version of "Revolution", and some psychedelic shirts for the trippy "Magical Mystery Tour" for renditions of "Penny Lane", "I am the Walrus" and "All You Need is Love", the latter which was part of a then-revolutionary world broadcast at its time.In all, the Beatlemania band performed 27 songs in two chronological sets, including one John Lennon solo tune, "Imagine", which Scot Arch as Lennon led on the piano.This current version of the show also allows for the individual "Beatles" to perform solo. Davey Justice, who portrayed Paul McCartney, got to sing "Yesterday" and "Eleanor Rigby", while Jimmy Pou as George Harrison did his take on Harrison compositions "Here Comes the Sun" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps."Even Ringo (Eric Smith) got his vocal showcase on "With a Little Help From My Friends."One of the thrills of Beatlemania Now is hearing the band perform Beatle songs from post 1966, which were songs The Beatles themselves wouldn't have played on a concert stage, since they had stopped touring by that point, not including select instances such as the "Let It Be" film.The Sullivan era songs included "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "She Loves You," "I Saw Her Standing There," "Roll Over Beethover," "I Feel Fine," "Can't Buy Me Love," and "Eight Days a Week."The set then segued into "Yesterday," "We Can Work It Out," "In My Life," and "Eleanor Rigby", before switching to the Sgt. Pepper period with "Here Comes the Sun," "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band/With a Little Help From My Friends", "Strawberry Fields Forever" and the epic "A Day in the Life."The second set marched through the "Magical Mystery Tour" before "Ringo" announced the band's break-up, with the show concluding with "Get Back,", "Come Together," and "Let It Be." The encore was a heartfelt "Hey Jude."The show also included some snippets of other non-Beatles 60's songs during its videos, including "Incense and Peppermints," "White Rabbit," "Itchycoo Park," "San Francisco," "War," and "Get Together."The Beatles might have broken up in 1970, but the music they left us with will live forever. Beatlemania Now is a vivid reminder of that.

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band made an appearance during the performance of Beatlemania Now at Penn's Peak Saturday night. JOE PLASKO/TIMES NEWS