Fab Faux – Live at Lisner, the George Washington University Campus


by
David D’Agostino
“Beatles Tribute Band” doesn’t really do justice to the performances of the Fab Faux. From what I had seen and heard before the show, it was obvious this was not your typical tribute band. First: no wigs, no Black Oyster Pearl Ludwig drum kit, and they’re not even all that cute.  (OK, Jack’s kinda cute and Will has a mop-top).

Second, they sing in their own voices — no phony accents, no vocal mimicry, just straight-ahead interpretations of the lead vocals with transcendent harmonies.

Third, and most important, the music. Except for Paul McCartney’s band, you have never heard (and never will hear) a group that can play the music of the Beatles like the Fab Faux can. Unless you heard The Beatles, and if you did — you didn’t hear them play most of these songs.

The Faux repertoire leans heavily towards the Beatles later material, recorded after they stopped touring in 1966. This period starts with Sgt. Pepper’s and ends with Abbey Road, and naturally contains their most ambitious works. Had the fans stopped screaming and the Beatles kept playing, I’m not sure even they could pull off the instrumental portion of this catalog as well as the Fab Faux.

“We’re the Fab Faux from New York city, and we’re going to play some Beatles for you tonight.”

‘Cause that’s really all we know how to play…”  Will Lee introduced the group after opening with popping renditions of “Magical Mystery Tour” and “Got to Get You Into My Life.”  Then the strings and horns left the stage and the five Faux brought out “And Your Bird Can Sing,” followed by “Paperback Writer,” which ended with the first extended jam of the night.

The entire group reassembled for “Strawberry Fields Forever,” which was one of the evening’s highlights.  Will Lee started the song on bass, moved over to keyboards, then ran behind the drum riser and jumped up to end it by pounding on the floor tom as part of a double-drum solo.

Afterwards, Will explained that there’s a recording where John Lennon joins Ringo and can be heard coaching him: “All right, calm down Ringo, calm down.”  This was one of several bits of Beatles education sprinkled throughout the night.

Will Lee was definitely the most animated member of the group, although the stage crew provided plenty of movement as they ushered in and out a flotilla of acoustic, electric, and bass guitars.  The players were constantly tweaking their setups “because we care about the music.”

Founding member Jimmy Vivino was absent, as he is currently leading the band for Conan O’Brien’s “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour.”  Jim Boggia filled in for Vivino, with Jack Petruzzelli picking up some of Jimmy’s guitar solos.   Guitarist Frank Agnello and drummer Rich Pagano fill out the remaining sides of the fab five pentagon.

All of the players are talented vocalists as well as multi-instrumentalists, although some are more vocal and multi-instrumental than others.  Petruzzelli and Boggia in particular displayed impressive versatility as they switched between the keyboard, guitar, and percussion setups that flanked each side of the stage.

Without any obvious John, Paul, or George impersonators (and a noticeable lack of Ringo-crooned tunes), it was hard to keep track of the lead vocal assignments.  It did seem that Lee contributed mainly on harmonies, and Pagano handled more than his share of the lead vocal duties.  And handled them very well.

It’s Getting Very Near the End

Rich Pagano had two drum kits set up for the show.  The “Early Kit” was used mostly for songs released before 1967, and the “Late Kit” for material released afterwards.  The first time Rich moved to the late kit was to play “Strawberry Fields Forever.”  He stayed there for “Something”, then moved back to the early kit for some early hits including “I Feel Fine” and “8 Days a Week.”  The first standing ovation of the night was earned by the piccolo trumpet solo on “Penny Lane,” and the first set ended with a driving version of “I am the Walrus.”

The second set was not as strong or as tight as the first, but got off to a good start with “Hello Goodbye” and “Back in the USSR.”   Highlights included Boggia’s Fender Rhodes solo on “Get Back,” and Petruzzelli’s guitar solo on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” which brought out the night’s second standing.

Fab Faux drummer and vocalist Rich Pagano with former New Yorker, DC television personality and all around nice guy Tony Perkins after the show.

Fab Faux drummer and vocalist Rich Pagano with former New Yorker, DC television personality and all around nice guy Tony Perkins after the show.

Before leaving the stage, they played, you guessed it,  “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” and “A Day in the Life.”  Both were well done, although the final chord of Day in the Life, which for my money has the best ending in the recorded history of rock and roll, could have benefited from a stronger accent and longer sustain.  [BTW – Best Beginning: “Money for Nothing” from Dire Straits.]

Of course, any further sustain would probably have been lost in the noise of the audience clamoring for an encore.  Which the Fab Faux delivered admirably with “All You Need is Love.”  And in the end, I counted about 27 songs over more than 2 full hours of music.

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About Elias Shams
I have been a serial entrepreneur in telecom and social media space for past 12 years or so. I hold a M.S. degree in Telecommunication Engineering from the George Washington University and a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of Maryland. I’ve lived and worked in many countries and cities including London England, Tehran Iran, Bonn Germany, Paris France, Alicante Spain, Delhi India, and my favorite of all Washington, DC of great US of A. Two of the greatest Washington, DC based companies I worked for and very proud of are Yurie Systems which was sold to Lucent in 1998 for $1.23 B and telezoo.com that I founded in 1999. I am currently the founder and awesomizer @ awesomize.me

2 Responses to Fab Faux – Live at Lisner, the George Washington University Campus

  1. stalker6recon says:

    Nice work David, this is the stalker (aka anthony). Good read, and sounds like it was a more than pleasant show. Never a big beatles fan, but certainly like the newer stuff (if you can call it new) over the bubblegum pop that got them famous.

    Keep writing………….your bro

    • David D. says:

      Thanks Tony. I think a lot of people would take exception to your characterization of early Beatles as “bubblegum pop”. That’s what you get for being born too late to experience either the Beatles or actual bubblegum pop (e.g., Yummy, Yummy, Yummy) in their day.

      On the other hand, you also get to be younger than the rest of us…

      peace,

      david

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