Just Imagine
Review by Ross Anthony

Tim Piper begins the show with a collage of images from the 60ís projected on a 25-foot screen. The images drift off into the psychedelic until a staircase descends from the starry skies. John is on it. Then in a flash of light, John is on stage. Piper grooms himself the John Lennon, roughly at the age that he left us (merely 40).

Piper is joined by 4 other talented musicians: a drummer, lead guitarist, bassist (right handed), and keyboard player. They arenít meant to be any particular artists from the past, but they do serve nicely to support Piper in recreating the music of Lennonís life. That said, the late 50ís early 60ís songs come off a bit weak. Perhaps because the vocal harmonies lost out to the instruments in the overall mix. Perhaps because Piper was still transitioning into John. Perhaps it was just our show. What harmonies I could hear did sound good; but, as you know, the early Beatles ďsoundĒ was all about those 4 voices and less about the music backing.

The electricity improves during the Ed Sullivan medley (She Loves You, I Wanna Hold Your Hand, Twist and Shout). And really peaks during the later Beatles era with Strawberry Fields and especially I Am the Eggman. Eggman is Eggcellent! Further, I greatly appreciated Piper giving the lead guitarist some license to fire up his powerful guitar work and send the song and show off into intermission. Very nicely done. Not even an announcement, just a passionate, resonate live rendition of a song, you're not likely to hear live anywhere else.

Still, during the break, I was thinking that Iíve heard better Beatle tribute bands (Fab Four, Liverpool, etc). You know, theyíre out there. Some of them even have a left-handed Bassist -- gotta appreciate that dedication. So, although, I was having a nice enough time, I wasnít knocked out of my chair either. Further, Piperís Lennon accent or the quality of his voice (one or the other) didn't strike a solid match. However(and this became even clearer in the second half) what Piper does very very well, is portray the character of Lennon. He recreates Johnís drive, vulnerability, and smart aleck attitude. After all, this is not a tribute to the Beatles, this is Johnís Story and itís hard to imagine someone doing a better job of telling it than Piper.

This point is hammered home with our return from the break. With the A/V projector off and the stage empty save for the instruments, Piper returns wielding an acoustic guitar. He steps off the stage into the audience engaging us directly, strolling the isles and punctuating his tales with resonating, completely solo and acoustic Lennon tunes. Perfect. I also enjoyed his description of the classic Lennon/McCartney song composition process. Eventually, he steps back on stage and is joined with the fabulous four backing musicians to ignite a few more electric covers. Sheís So Heavy rocks -- the keys and lead guitar smoke. In My Life is also played well with an encore of what else? I'm sure you can Imagine.

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Nowhere Boy - (Film Review)
Rain - (Beatles Tribute Review)

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  • Just Imagine. Copyright © 2011.
  • Based on the September 11, 2011 event at the Hayworth Theatre in Los Angeles. Starring Tim Piper as John Lennon. Directed by Steve Altman. Greg Piper (bass), Don Butler (guitar), Don Poncher (drums), Morley Bartnoff (keys).

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Last Modified: Monday, 26-Sep-2011 21:20:45 PDT