Hear Beatles’ ‘Please Please Me’ recreated
In this undated file photograph British pop band The Beatles, John Lennon (left) Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison (right) pose for a photograph. The Fest for Beatles Fans runs through Aug. 12 in Rosemont, Ill. | AP
Beatles ‘Please Please Me’ album
9 p.m. March 22
FitzGerald’s, 6615 Roosevelt Road, Berwyn
Never got the chance to see the Beatles live?
For $6 on March 22 at FitzGerald’s, you can see Chicago singer-songwriter Phil Angotti, multi-instrumentalist Tony Kidonakis and NRBQ’s Casey McDonough and Scott Ligon play the Beatles’ “Please Please Me” album in its entirety to celebrate the album’s 50th anniversary.
It was only a few weeks ago that Angotti read that “Please Please Me,” released on March 22, 1963, would be celebrating such a milestone. He decided to call up longtime friends McDonough, Ligon and Kidonakis to play alongside him to cover the album. Angotti and McDonough have been playing together for 20 years — they’re both part of the Chicago-based Beatle Brothers cover collective, who previously played all of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” on the album’s 30th anniversary and John Lennon’s “Imagine in Liverpool” on its 40th anniversary (with none other than Alan White, who played drums on about half of “Imagine”).
While McDonough mainly plays bass, he will be playing lead guitar during the show. Kidonakis will play bass, Ligon will play drums and Angotti will be the lead singer and guitarist/harmonica player. Or, as he puts it, “I’m going to be John Lennon.”
A co-owner of Avenue North Guitars in Wicker Park, Angotti actually has access to the same model of instruments the Beatles used back in 1963, a luxury that he hopes will contribute to a more authentic sound. Angotti will play a 1959 Rickenbacker 325. McDonough will be playing Angotti’s 1955 Gretsch Duo-Jet and the two of them will share a 1960 Gibson J-160E. Kidonakis will be playing a reissue Hofner 500/1 violin bass, similar to the one Paul McCartney used.
“The goal is for the performance to sound as much like the record as possible,” McDonough said. “There’s something pretty cool about an old instrument. You can feel the difference in holding it. A brand new version of that same guitar just doesn’t feel right.”
At the same time, the group hopes that playing the album will evoke the nostalgia of first hearing Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr. “When I was young, my aunt gave me a mixtape with songs from ‘Please Please Me’ on it,” said Kidonakis. “Playing this album will recreate the magic of when I first heard the Beatles.”
At age 16, Kidonakis won a Paul McCartney sound-alike contest after playing “The Long and Winding Road” on piano.
The “Please Please Me” set at 9:45 p.m. will be sandwiched by a solo acoustic opening set from Angotti at 9 p.m. and a closing set from Ligon, McDonough and Kidonakis’ band The Federales at 11 p.m.
The Federales formed when drummer Jim Barclay had a gig at a club and everybody he was supposed to play with slowly bowed out. He eventually played with Ligon, McDonough and Kidonakis, who all knew each other, but had never played together before. While the four have played together on and off for about nine years, they have no original material, have never recorded together and don’t often rehearse.
But if you can’t catch the quartet this time around, they’ll certainly play some more Beatles music together in the future.
“It’s all the Beatles’ fault,” McDonough said, “every decision I’ve made in my life has been based on them.”