Complete with mop tops, retro costumes, vintage instruments and Liverpudlian accents, BritBeat takes audiences back to 1964 in a journey with The Beatles from their matching Ed Sullivan suits to their Abbey Road bell-bottom jeans.
The Chicago-based tribute band performs their “Beatles Anthology Show” at 8 p.m. Saturday at Foellinger Outdoor Theatre as part of their 2012 Midwest summer tour. The 2 1/2 -hour show includes Beatles banter, three costume changes and three era-based sets as BritBeat performs the Beatles' music from eras defined by “The Ed Sullivan Show”, “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Abbey Road”.
“It's a journey through the history of The Beatles,” said bassist Chris Getsla who impersonates Paul McCartney.
Along with Getsla, 30, the band includes guitarist James Lynch, 32, as John Lennon, lead guitarist Geoff Allen, 29, as George Harrison and drummer David Robinson, 37, as Ringo Starr.
A fifth band member, Rick Sladek, 45, is a Billy Preston-esque keyboardist who does the band's percussion.
Unlike four-member tribute bands, BritBeat plays everything live so there are no recorded sounds during their show.
“People have the albums and songs in their memories, and, when they see us live, they want to hear all of the little nuances,” Getsla said. “There's a responsibility for us to make it as close (to the original) as possible.”
To get the sound and feel right, each band member spends hundreds of hours studying his character in movies, concert videos and studio recordings.
“It's a labor of love,” Getsla said. “We're ultimately Beatles fans, and we enjoy trying to re-create not only the music but also the characters themselves on stage.”
One of BritBeat's advantages is their youth. Because the four band members are in their late 20s and 30s, they resemble the Beatles from 1963 to 1970.
“We're closer to the ages the Beatles actually were,” said Getsla, adding that most tribute bands are older men who grew up in the Beatles era.
Getsla started BritBeat in 2000 for his senior variety show at Glenbrook South High School in Glenview, Ill.
“After high school, we were picked up by agencies, and we've done it ever since,” Getsla said.
Now BritBeat is performing 50-60 shows a year.
Although the band hasn't met John, Paul, George or Ringo, the Beatles' original drummer Pete Best chose BritBeat when he wanted to perform with a tribute band in 2005 at U.S. Cellular Field.
“He was able to tell us stories about John, Paul and George in the early years,” Getsla said.
BritBeat performs classic Beatles songs as well as songs the Beatles were never able to perform live because their concerts in the 1960s were only 20-30 minutes long.
And the tribute band adds different Beatles songs to their repertoire every year.
This year they're featuring “I've Just Seen a Face” from the album “Help!,” “You Can't Do That” from “A Hard Day's Night,” “Hey Bulldog” from “Yellow Submarine” and “For You Blue” from “Let it Be”.
Getsla says the audience can also expect classics, such as “A Hard Day's Night,” “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” and “Come Together.”
The show's grand finale is the “Golden Slumbers” medley from Abbey Road.
“There's amazing harmony and lead guitar work, and we play it all live on stage,” Getsla said.