Abbey Road' sings at Lilli's

Abbey Road’ sings at Lilli’s
By Jim Sullivan, Globe Staff, 5/5/2001

SOMERVILLE – The MC, T Max, wearing top coat and tails and waving a cane, took the stage at the onset of Boston Rock Opera’s rendition of the Beatles’ ”Abbey Road” Thursday at Lilli’s and proclaimed: ”Mikey Dee is in the house!” Indeed, he was. And he was in his element. The Boston rock scenester, paralyzed by a brain-stem stroke last year, was in his wheelchair at the left side of the stage. It was his first club outing since the stroke, and Dee beamed as friends made their way over to say howdy.

Shortly, Boston Rock Opera – the ambitious company of which Dee has played a part – began ”Abbey Road.” ”Come Together,” sung by Peter Moore and Linda Viens, took on a double meaning, considering the situation – both in the chorus (”Come together, over me”) and in a line like ”Hold you in his armchair/You can feel his disease.”

BRO, more than two dozen strong Thursday, has tackled ”Sgt. Pepper” in a theatrical fashion. ”Abbey Road,” which the troupe rehearsed seven times, was done without theatrical fanfare. They played the 17 songs in order, with a variety of singers swapping lead roles and some gorgeous choral singing, especially in ”Sun King,” ”Carry That Weight, ” and ”The End.” Part of the pleasure simply came in hearing this audacious work played live, especially the song-suite from side two where the band was cranking. Gary Cherone, formerly of Van Halen and Extreme, took BRO down that home stretch superbly. Kudos, too, to guitarist Mike Loce, who channeled George Harrison during the closing guitar blitz, and drummer Larry Dersch, who expertly executed Ringo Starr’s short and simple, but delectable, drum break.

”Abbey Road” was the Beatles’ final studio album and it presented the group in all its diversity. Thursday, we heard the primal, screaming blues John Lennon loved in ”Oh! Darling,” sung by Corin Ashley, and `I Want You,” sung by Brian Gottesman. On the record, the first side ends abruptly – as if the tape runs out – and the BRO band, led by guitarist Mick Maldonado, jerked the squalling blues-rock to a halt perfectly. Of course, it did wrap up with the classic line ”And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.” (That, plus T Max’s singing the ditty, ”Her Majesty.”)

This was all rendered in a jolly manner, with BRO being faithful to the arrangements and attitude. May all the Mikey Dee benefit shows – they run through Sunday – have such a warm vibe.

This story ran on page 07 of the Boston Globe on 5/5/2001.
© Copyright 2001 Globe Newspaper Company.