The American public's love of The Beatles is insatiable as latter artists continue to recreate their musical magic live on stage. The third annual Walk Down Abbey Road was limited to a few dates. The tour headlined at the Atlantic City Hilton Hotel in New Jersey on Friday, August 8, 2003.
The 2003 line up included former WDAR musicians Christopher Cross, Alan Parsons, and Todd Rundgren. The addition of guitarist Denny Laine from the Moody Blues & Wings and Joey Molland from Badfinger established an even stronger tie to Liverpool's famous native sons, the Fab Four.
The 2003 WDAR unit featured the members of The Alan Parsons Project Live touring band with Manny Focarazzo on keyboards, John Montagna on bass, Steve Murphy on drums, and the talented Godfrey Townsend on guitar.
John Lennon's 1965 classic "Day Tripper" was the first Beatles selection that opened the evening. Guitarist Joey Molland reprised several familiar Badfinger hit singles; classics such as "No Matter What", "Come And Get It" and "Day After Day".
Guitarist Denny Laine sang lead vocals on the 1965 hit single "Go Now" he originally recorded as a member of the Moody Blues. He also handled lead vocals on two major Wings classics, "Live And Let Die" and "Band On The Run".
Todd Rundgren tackled Lennon's 1966 psychedelic B-side "Rain". He sang two of his solo songs; a rocker "Open My Eyes" and his popular ballad "Hello, It's Me". Christopher Cross followed up next with McCartney's 1965 single "We Can Work It Out".
Cross delivered a stunning version of his wistful ballad "Sailing". The core WDAR band provided ample support for his angelic vocals. Cross commented he enjoyed sharing the bill with the amazing artists on stage. Cross provided a searing guitar solo on his nod to Texas rock'n'roll, "Ride Like The Wind".
Alan Parsons played synth on a dense production of the medley "Sirius > Eye In The Sky" that showcased Townsend's soaring guitar solo. Unrecognized for his singing, Parsons handled the vocals on "Eye In The Sky" and the 1964 McCartney classic, "And I Love Her. Parsons sang this solo with only the aid of his acoustic guitar.
Rundgren and Cross sang a duet on "Back In The USSR" with Rundgren taking the first lead guitar solo. Townsend ripped on the high-pitched guitar solo at the bridge, inciting a wild response of approval from the audience. Rundgren sang lead on "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and earned a standing ovation for his fierce lead guitar solos.
The Beatlemania classic that launched the British Invasion, "I Want To Hold Your Hand", closed the evening with Cross and Rundgren sharing the vocals. The power-pop tune spotlighted a tougher guitar sound. The entire WDAR group left the stage only to return moments later for the encore set.
"Birthday" was dedicated to Michelle in the audience. Murphy's drum intro was joined by a chorus of guitars to jumpstart this crowd pleaser. Once again, Cross and Rundgren sang lead together. The drum solo at the bridge commenced a band jam highlighted by Montagna's bass playing. The intense party atmosphere performance generated a standing ovation.
Laine exclaimed, "Are you all Beatles fans or what!". Their finale selection was a suite from side two of Abbey Road, "Golden Slumbers > Carry That Weight > The End". Cross and Rundgren both took turns on lead vocals followed by a group harmony chorus on "Carry That Weight".
Murphy's extended drum solo for "The End" pumped up the crowd. Cross, Rundgren and Townsend each traded off on the lead guitar solos for an intense live version of "The End". Townsend took the last lead solo before the crescendo. Rundgren introduced the band as they assembled for a group bow.
Jeanine Assenza thoroughly enjoyed the performance. She commented, "I have had the extraordinary privilege of attending some of the best shows I have ever seen. This brilliant ensemble of players, masterminded by Alan Parsons, have been delighting Beatle fan audiences since it's inception in 2001".
Atlantic City setlist: Day Tripper * A Hard Day's Night * No Matter What * Come And Get It * Day After Day * Go Now * Live And Let Die * Band On The Run * Rain * Open My Eyes * Hello, It's Me * We Can Work It Out * Sailing * Ride Like The Wind * Sirius > Eye In The Sky * And I Love Her * Games People Play * Back In The USSR * While My Guitar Gently Weeps * Ticket To Ride * I Want To Hold Your Hand * Encore: Birthday * Golden Slumbers > Carry That Weight > The End
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- take three
Another musical stroll through The Beatles Songbook
by Timothy Tilghman