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‘A Day in The Life: A Beatles Experience’ lands in Bangor

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Local tribute group to perform two shows at the Bangor Opera House

BANGOR – The Bangor Opera House will be the setting for two multi-media live concert performances from acclaimed Beatles tribute group “A Day in The Life: A Beatles Experience” on Feb. 25 and 26.

Band director Morgan Cates of Camden says the concerts will showcase each era of the seminal band’s unparalleled career.

“Our primary focus is to play the music as accurately as possible and a secondary, but very important goal, is to look like The Beatles, to act like them and to give the audience the feeling of seeing The Beatles,” Cates told me during an interview, conducted while he was visiting a hairdresser’s salon, where new wigs were being cut for each member of the cast.

It was a casting call that brought the current lineup of “A Day in The Life” together, Cates says, but a mutual love of The Beatles that keeps them together. Cates says he started the band in 2011 and the current lineup has been together since last July, shortly before they began a regional tour.

“I live in Camden while most of the guys are in the Bangor area,” Cates said. “One of them originates from London, Ontario and one originates from Houston, Texas.”

In addition to Cates, who plays the role of Paul McCartney, “A Day in The Life” features Ira Kramer on rhythm guitar (as John Lennon), Josh Kovach on lead guitar (as George Harrison), Andrew Carlson on drums (as Ringo Starr) and Phil Burns on keyboards.

“This is actually going to be Phil’s first show with us and we’re very excited to bring him onboard,” Cates says. “He recreates some of the very difficult technical details in the music, using a couple of keyboards.”

Those technical details Cates refers to include the sounds of brass, Mellotron and orchestral flourishes required for songs like “I Am The Walrus,” “Strawberry Fields Forever,” “Penny Lane” and “A Day in The Life” – songs The Beatles never performed in concert as they had retired from the road in 1966 to focus on studio recordings.

“The Beatles didn’t have the technology to reproduce those sounds in a live setting 50 years ago but fortunately, we have that ability now”, Cates says.

Cates says that, while he writes left-handed, he is actually a right-handed guitarist who learned to play his Hofner violin-bass left-handed for this show.

“That’s one of those important and obvious details that we had to do. Everybody knows that Paul McCartney is a left-handed bassist so when the curtain goes up, if there was a right-handed bassist there, it would break the illusion to a degree.”

As the band performs this weekend, a large video screen behind them will be showing a variety of still backdrops and video montages from the period when these songs were originally recorded, according to Cates.

“For somebody who lived through that period and were there when The Beatles were making this music, the videos are intended to bring them back to that time in their life. And for the people who weren’t there, it’s intended to inform the audience of what was happening, why The Beatles wrote what they wrote, or maybe more importantly, why did the culture shift in such a way, based on what The Beatles wrote?”

Cates says he is well aware that some Beatles fans that attend the show will be a little more knowledgeable than others regarding the band’s music.

“This show is as much for the diehard fan as for the casual fan,” Cates says. “We attempt to appeal to all varieties of Beatles fans, from the fan who heard a few records and liked them but never really delved in to the fan for whom this music has been the soundtrack of their life and they know every nuance of the original recording. We incorporate those details into the show which makes it fun for the hardcore fan.”

Cates says it has been very gratifying for the band to see such a diverse age-group in the audience for “A Day in The Life.”

“You see grandparents, who lived through it, with their grandkids. Those kids know every word and it’s really an incredible experience.

“It’s sort of a religious experience in a way, for a lot of people,” he continued. “When the curtain comes up, you tend to see a bit of hesitance from people who really want to enjoy the show but you really have to win them over first. They’re a little suspicious at first and then a few songs into it, they start to loosen up and by the end of the show, it’s like you have several hundred people going to church.”

I asked Cates if there happens to be a Yoko Ono-equivalent around “A Day in The Life.”

“Not that I know of,” he said with a laugh. “But I will say that our John Lennon’s wife is also our stage manager. She has the power to break us up very easily, but so far, she has only used that power for good.”

(Tickets for “A Day in The Life: A Beatles Experience” can be purchased at or by calling the Penobscot Theatre Company box office at 942-3333. Performances will be held at 7 p.m. on Feb. 25 and 3 p.m. on Feb. 26.) 


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