The Fab Four: The Ultimate Tribute is making a return trip to the Fox Theater at 8 p.m. on Sept. 16. Ardy Sarraf – who takes on the musical role of Paul McCartney with the group – promises this will be a very different show than the previous stop here a year ago.
It starts with the faux Fab Four taking on the Beatles’ “Rubber Soul” album as the core of their show.
“People know that is probably one of the most popular Beatles albums. The top five for sure,” Sarraf says. “It came out in 1965 and kind of changed music as we know it. We are attempting to take the show on the road for the first time.
“We have done it a couple of times in the past with special shows here and there. But we are going to roll the dice and see how it plays out on the road.”
Among the songs on the “Rubber Soul” album are “Nowhere Man,” “Baby You Can Drive My Car,” “Michelle,” “In My Life” and “Norwegian Wood.” The entire album is not enough for a full concert where the band tends to perform 26-28 songs each night. That means they also will perform other major hits by the Beatles.
The Fab Four will be playing the “Rubber Soul” lineup that was on the United Kingdom release. Sarraf points out that means they will not be performing “I’ve Just Seen Her Face” as it was not on the UK album.
One downside to performing as the Beatles is that the band has a massive music catalogue of major hits. Sarraf knows that no matter how many popular Beatles numbers they perform, there always will be people upset that they did not play their favorite.
The album does give every member of the band a chance to shine. Sarraf points out there are two songs on the album that feature George Harrison, one Ringo Starr song and the rest are by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.
Sarraf will be performing “Michelle,” the most widely recorded song by the Beatles. It won the group a Grammy as Song of the Year in 1967. He is up to the challenge as he was a music fan long before he started performing as McCartney.
“I grew up in a house of music because my mom was a Gospel singer,” Sarraf says. “I was dragged around to some rehearsals with her so I was always around music. Then I started hearing her Everly Brothers albums. Barry Manilow.
“My sister is not musical at all but she got into the Beatles once John Lennon was killed in 1980. I was wondering why the whole world was so sad about this guy dying. That’s when I started listening to their albums and I was like ‘Oh. Now I know.’”
It was about that time that Sarraf saw a tribute band at Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park and was mesmerized by their performance. With his newfound appreciation of the band, Sarraf and several friends he had met through various Beatles conventions started performing Beatles music at battles of the bands. That finally morphed into the current version of the Fab Four.
Looking the part presented a special challenge for Sarraf. Every band member uses makeup, wigs and costumes to look as much like the Beatles as possible. To play and portray McCartney, Sarraf – who is naturally right-handed – had to learn how to play the bass with his left hand. Sarraf knew if the Fab Four was going to be the ultimate tribute band, he needed to fully commit to changing his playing style.
Sarraf has portrayed McCartney long enough he has developed enough muscle memory that the backwards way of playing comes relatively naturally to him now.
“After 25 years of playing left-handed, it’s pretty much second nature,” Sarraf says. He laughs and adds, “I still can’t brush my teeth left-handed.”
The left-handed playing Sarraf has found with each return engagement to a city the audience tends to be a 50-50 split of those who have seen previous performances by the band and those who are new to the show. He promises those who are seeing the show for the first time that it will be a fun experience.
They have taken that fun experience around the globe performing in Japan, Australia, France, Hong Kong, The United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and Brazil. The Fab Four have headlined International Beatle Week in Liverpool, performing at the festival in 2004, 2008, 2011 and 2019.
The band provided motion capture performances for the Cirque du Soleil Beatles LOVE Show’s 10th anniversary revamp in 2017. They were hand-picked by director Robert Zemeckis to portray the Beatles in the performance sequences of the then-planned remake of “Yellow Submarine” in 2010. The numerous television appearances for them include “Entertainment Tonight,” “Good Morning America” and “Ellen DeGeneres’s Really Big Show.”