Just Imagine tribute  

Tim Piper IS John Lennon

Imagine John Lennon returns for one last concert and YOU ARE THERE!. "Just Imagine" transports you to another place and time, putting you ''one on one'' with the musical legend who shook the world. Experience Lennon''s timeless musical genius as Tim Piper takes you through John''s life from tumultuous childhood to worldwide pop music superstar to groundbreaking social icon that influenced generations. You''ll share a unique perspective on John''s life, the stories behind the songs, and revealing insights about the birth of the Beatles, the pressures of super-stardom, and John''s relationships with his loves and fellow Beatles

n a Los Angeles Times critic''s choice show described by Variety as "amazing," top Beatles tribute performer Tim Piper stars as John Lennon returning for one more concert. Backed by live band Working Class Hero, Piper belts out Beatles hits and shares anecdotes from the star''s life, accompanied by film and photo projections from the Beatles'' years to Lennon''s solo career and after.

Starring Tim Piper as John Lennon
Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA - Saturday October 9th, 2004
Review by Tom Frangione

Yoko Ono recently announced plans for a stage musical based on the life of John Lennon, scheduled to hit his adopted hometown of New York City in 2005. For Beatles fans, the news was somewhat bittersweet in that the repertoire is slated to contain music from only his post-Beatles career. Fortunately, Lennon and Beatles fans have an alternative, and something to tide them over until opening night on Broadway, and that is the traveling production of A Day In His Life, starring Tim Piper in a spot-on portrayal of Lennon circa 1972.

As most fans may recall, either through firsthand memories or the recent five-video release, John and Yoko guest hosted the Mike Douglas Show for a full week back in 1972. Adeptly contrasted here as the Doug Michaels show, Lennon is pitted against a daytime talk show host (Ed Hasselbrink portrays the hapless Michaels) whos lounge-act-gone-bad performance of And I Love Her, for example, is a none-too-subtle (yet hysterical) jab at Douglas similarly ill conceived rendition of Michelle during Lennons stint. Moreover, it recalls an early phase of the post-Beatles era, when the distinction between John and Pauls contributions to the Lennon-McCartney canon were not so clearly delineated (at least not on paper) and the question on everybodys mind was when will the Beatles be getting back together.

This becomes a recurring theme and is relentlessly played upon by the host, audience, and even the band, who claim to know all Lennons work, but fail to know anything from his two solo albums which would have been out at that time, Plastic Ono Band and Imagine. They clarify their comments to mean his Beatles work only; the shows songs, then, all originate from the group era.

The hosts inane questions (and obvious lack of even a fundamental knowledge of his guests background) effectively set the stage for the musical interludes. Michaels comment I bet your parents back in Liverpool are really proud of you, for example, prompts Lennon to tell the story of his mother, leading into an acoustic guitar performance of Julia.

This platform is a refreshing contrast to the and-then-I-wrote format shows of this genre typically fall victim to. The staging recreates the flavor of the period, with cheesy props and backdrops, a 3-piece house band and even the host and guests smoking during the interview segments, recalling an other-worldly era of American television. Conversely, under the heading of the more things change, the more they stay the same..

Musically, it is important to recall that during this period, the Beatles music was something the individual band members especially John and Paul seemed to go out of their way to distance themselves from, in an effort to forge individual musical identities. While Lennon never properly toured, listeners may recall his introduction to Come Together at the 1972 One To One concert (well go back in the past, just once). And as hard as it is to believe given his recent live sets, even Paul refrained from including Beatles songs (except ones they covered, like Long Tall Sally) in his concerts during this period.

That said, one could make the argument that the songs performed in the nearly 2-hour show might represent a set list Lennon could have put together had he toured and decided to dip into the catalog the way, say, McCartney has done in recent years. Is pulling You Cant Do That out of the hat that much more of a stretch than Pauls recent return to You Wont See Me? Food for thought

Tim Piper is John Lennon reincarnate in the new show, Just Imagine, which had its world premiere Oct. 9 at the NoHo Arts Center. Because Piper looks and sounds so uncannily like the legendary Beatle who was killed in 1980 at the age of 40, there is no need to imagine anything. You just get swept up in the music.

Piper and his Working Class Hero band of Greg Piper (bass/musical director), Don Butler (lead guitar), Don Poncher (drums), and Morley Bartnoff (keyboards) perform Beatles and Lennon songs (including Revolution, Help, Come Together, Strawberry Fields, and, of course, Imagine) and snippets from others. The show is essentially an hour-and-a-half concert, and the intimate NoHo Arts Center is a dream venue for it, one in which we are up close with the band and yet never blasted out of the room. If youve been watching all the Beatles movies and documentaries on VH1 in celebration of the Sept. 9 release of the remasters, this live show will be the icing on the cake.

Lennons anecdotes throughout the show including inspirations for songs, emotional confessions, and straightforward history (all exceedingly well-written by Piper) add another level of appreciation to the music. They also heighten that underlying poignancy that this is it Lennon is gone and Piper and his band can only bring him back to life for a moment.

Pipers acting is flawless; he channels the former Beatle, as he shares Lennons life story and that of the Beatles, an emotional journey from parentless youth to international celebrity and then, more importantly, to happy husband and father. Steve Altman (actor, comedian, songwriter, and theater and film director) directs Pipers one-man show to great effect; there is a definite sense of drama as the show winds toward its inevitable conclusion.

Piper, who has been with Beatles and Lennon tribute bands for more than 20 years, has Lennons voice down, and he uses his instrument to its fullest. For instance, Mother, which Lennon wrote while participating in primal therapy and is full of screaming, is not just amazing as you hear it, but also afterward as you wonder how he does this three days a week for this show, not to mention how many times hes done it over the years with his tribute band.

The band is airtight and a thrill to hear. Piper and Working Class Hero pull off songs that the original band never performed live (The Beatles stopped touring in 1966 before Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band.). Their performance of I Am the Walrus rocks hard; its absolutely incredible to hear live and worth the ticket price alone.

During various anecdotes and songs, videos are projected on the wall above the band in a concert-ticket frame: clips from Beatles movies, photographs from the Vietnam War, the bands introduction on the Ed Sullivan Show, and other wildly varied video. Black-and-white footage (with added psychedelic colors) of rock icons who died young reminds us that they are forever frozen in time, and we cant help imagining what they would sound like now, what kind of songs theyd be writing, what they would say. Thats why Just Imagine is so powerful. Youll leave with the strong feeling that you just saw Lennon, and didnt just imagine him.

Just Imagine video
Just Imagine video -Tim Piper
Tim Piper

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