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Back to the '60s with 'RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles'

IF YOU GO

• What: “RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles”

• When: 8 p.m. tonight, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday

• Where: Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, 2800 Cobb Galleria Parkway, Atlanta

• Cost: $25 to $63

• For more information: Visit www.gassouthbroad...>

ATLANTA -- Direct from their Broadway engagement, the internationally acclaimed "RAIN: A Tribute to The Beatles" is a colorful concert that will hit the stage at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Friday through Sunday.

Playing the musical icons onstage are renowned musicians and songwriters, including Steve Landes, who has been with the cast since 1998 playing John Lennon.

Landes performs vocals, rhythm guitar, piano and harmonica throughout the show. A life-long, second-generation Beatles fan, Landes taught himself guitar at age 10 while listening to Beatles records. By 13 years old, he was fronting a Top 40 cover band in his native Philadelphia.

"As a Beatles fan at heart this role always spoke to me," Landes said. "Being up there on stage and embodying the character (of John Lennon) for so many Beatles fans has been enlightening. You can read about him in books and see his life story on video a million times, but to actually, in a sense, step into his shoes in a performance sense is different. I have stood on some of the same stages that the Beatles have performed on. There is no other way to feel what he felt at those times."

For many Beatles fans, the show is cathartic as they stroll down memory lane, back to a time of turmoil, but also love and peace. For others, those who became Beatles fans after the demise of the band, the show is a chance to see what it might have been like in the sixties.

"It's one of the decades that for somebody that wasn't around it's really interesting to see all that was happening in the Beatles time," Landes said. "I have seen all this stuff second-hand, including Kennedy, Nixon, Vietnam and all that. Going back in time is interesting and cool."

For the performers, the major "high" is connecting with the audience. Landes explains that the band feeds of the audience's energy.

"Seeing them out there in their Beatles T-shirts, singing along and getting into the spirit of suspended disbelief keeps it fresh for us. It's fun for us because we get to be The Beatles and they get to see The Beatles," he said.

"RAIN" will feature songs from the early hits to the later classics, such as "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "Come Together," "Hey Jude" and "Let It Be." The musicians playing The Beatles have been together longer than the original foursome and claim to have now mastered every song, gesture and nuance of the original band members.

The performances will also feature vibrant sixties costumes with "their black suits (and) pointy-Beatle boots," according to Landes.

After more than a decade of performing the same role, Landes explains that it never gets old. His favorite moment is when the curtain first goes up.

"Between the youthful energy of the early Beatles and that meeting between performer and audience there is electricity there in those first few moments," Landes said.

He summarized what makes "RAIN" so special when he said, "We're talking about the Beatles. Their music is like forever."