Steve Landes gets to live a dream of so many life-long Beatles fans.
Landes has been a part of RAIN, a Beatles tribute group, since 1998, providing vocals, rhythm guitar, piano and harmonica talents to RAIN, while playing the role of John Lennon in the group. RAIN travels the world, playing many of the Beatles biggest hits on a nightly basis.
“As a John Lennon fan, and as a Beatles' fan, it's really surreal to get to do this for a living, to dress up like him, to embody his character on stage, to play the music, and to really delve into who he was, what he was about, why he did the things he did on stage, and what the music meant to him and the other Beatles,” said Landes.
Each member of RAIN represents a Beatle: Mac Ruffing portrays Paul McCartney, Jimmy Pou is George Harrison, and Douglas Cox is Ringo Starr.
Landes and the other members of RAIN will be at Spectra Place in Estevan on Monday, April 1, for a stop on their “Experience the Beatles with RAIN” tour. He's promising a big show, a “Broadway-level” production.
“There is literally millions of dollars worth of sets and costumes, a multi-media film presentation, and audience interaction with live cameras that show both us and the audience at various points,” said Landes. “There's a lot going on.
“From a foundation of the music, to what you see on stage, there's a level that we've worked on for a very long time. It's a lot of fun.”
Landes was introduced to the “Fab Four” at an early age. His parents and his older sisters were Beatles fans. He had hand-me-down Beatles t-shirts, posters and records.
“They were characters I knew as a baby, and when I was a kid, but as I grew up, I came to really respect the music, and see it in a whole new light. It just touched me the way in which they formed music and created these amazing melodies that stay with you,” said Landes.
Some of the Beatles lyrics speak to a youthful spirit, he said, but other songs speak to everyone with their themes of peace and love.
Landes joined RAIN in 1998, after the band's previous “John Lennon” had to drop out due to illness. Landes knew the other members of the band at the time, and he was asked to audition.
There are a lot of Beatles bands out there, he said, and so RAIN knew that they had to work hard, and perform as frequently as possible, if they were to succeed. They played in cruise ships, county fairs and corporate gigs. And they spent a lot of time honing their performance.
“We were able to really delve into the music, and find a way to replicate it on stage in a way that I never have with any of the other groups that I have worked with,” said Landes. “The level of professionalism and musicianship when I got into the band was really refreshing.”
Their work ethic was rewarded a few years ago when they landed a Broadway show, “RAIN: A Tribute to the Beatles on Broadway,” which ended in the summer of 2011 after 300 performances. RAIN captured a Drama Desk Award for their performances.
“We tell their story through their songs and their experiences, so it was very different from the normal show you'd see on Broadway,” said Landes.
RAIN is currently in the midst of a North American tour that will see them traverse the continent. Landes said the band is constantly on the road, and performing its tribute to the Beatles.
Tickets are still available for RAIN's Estevan performance.