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Thursday, July 28, 2005

'Fab' night in Homewood

By Don Snider

As the Fab Four would say, "Do you want to know a secret?"

Indoors or outdoors, American English has to be one of the world's greatest Beatles tribute bands.

Actually, it's not much of a secret. The faux fab foursome virtually filled all of Irwin Park in downtown Homewood for Friday's Starry Nights concert.

A show-of-hands survey revealed that half the crowd of almost 1,500 had seen American English before.

I saw them at Governors State University last year, and this group answered my two questions right away.

One, would they still be as authentic with two new members? Two, would they put on a complete show (strobe lights, good sound system, etc.) outdoors, as they had inside the GSU Center?

In a word(s), yes. And yes.

Starry Nights concluded its 19th season with one of its best nights ever.

The weather was perfect, and the crowd got more than its money's worth.

American English, in two full hours, including intermission, played some 30 numbers, the best of the Beatles' lengthy songbook.

They began with the early black-suits-and-tie era, changed costumes for the colorful, psychedelic Sgt. Pepper years, then wound up with an eclectic Abby Road finale.

They were accompanied by outstanding keyboardist Ken Zemanek, a south suburbanite, and Sam Leach, one of the Beatles' first managers who made a special appearance all the way from Liverpool, England.

Unlike Mickey Dolenz, who last month refused an encore after only one hour on stage, American English had the cellphones all lit up and swaying (few people carry a Bic lighter anymore) for "Hey, Jude."

American English is packing in the fans all over the South Suburbs this summer. The group will be in Crete and New Lenox this weekend (see Page 5).

Would they be welcome for an encore in Homewood to cap Starry Night's 20th anniversary next summer?

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," indicated members of the Homewood-Flossmoor Park District Board.

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