Sunday, November 6, 2011

John, Paul, George and Ringo

The Parrots performing at Abbey Road in Roppongi

Nowhere Man! Yellow Submarine! Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds! Hard Day's Night! Help!

These guys (pictured above) played all of those songs and more in five sets over four and a half hours at Abbey Road, a nightclub in Roppongi near Midtown, and they were amazing, just spot-on. The guy doing John, with his frizzy mad-scientist hair and dark specs, was absolutely brilliant, knocking it outta the park with "Happiness is a Warm Gun" and "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." A baby-faced George - offstage nickname, "Bambino" - smiled a lot, charming the pants off us girls. Paul looked like a regular Japanese salaryman, but his "Let It Be" gave me chills. Ringo wasn't Ringo, but who could be?

The space isn't anything to get excited about -- we spent the evening seated with our friends around a small wooden table inches away from the next, ordering drinks and food, and forbidden to dance. You could sway a little, and clap of course -- and hold our heads and weep like those crazy fans from the early days, if we wanted to -- but how unsatisfying, especially when you hear the opening bars of yet another favorite. You wanna jump up! That's what you'd do if you were at a concert. This is more like dinner theater, with pitchers and good nachos (albeit a dainty, delicately arranged plate of them). I recommend the fish and chips.

An unexpected plus: usually when we go out at night in Tokyo, even though I don't smoke, my hair ends up smelling like an ashtray, but at Abbey Road, there's no smoking allowed while the band is playing - maybe to protect their vocal cords from the evil second-hand fumes? Whatever the reason, it works for me. No ashtray hair.

I suspect that the Parrots know every Beatles track ever recorded -- they perform at Abbey Road nearly every night of the week - and they do take requests. But no shouting out - you need to fill out a form and hand it to the waitress. The band didn't play many of the songs we asked for though. Not like the band we saw a couple times awhile back at the Cavern Club. Those guys played every tune on our list. (Helter Skelter! Glass Onion!) And like the Parrots, those guys were solid performers, all Beatles. They were also true impersonators, making more of an effort to mimic the personal styles and stage mannerisms of the original Fab Four. They even donned authentic band uniforms from Sgt. Pepper's the night they covered that album from beginning to end. (Lovely Rita! For the Benefit of Mr. Kite!) But the Cavern Club seems to have closed, or changed its theme, leaving Abbey Road to carry on solo. Or so it would seem. If anybody knows of another Tokyo hotspot of Beatlemania, please, share. In any case, Abbey Road will do just fine.

Abbey Road
Roppongi Building Annex B1
4-11-5, Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-0032

Tel 03 3402 0017
Cost is 2,100 per person, plus two-drink minimum and 15% service charge. The latest reservation you can make on Fridays and Saturdays is 7:30pm; we booked for 7pm on Saturday, and by the time the band came on at 7:30pm, the place was full. There were some empty tables during the last set, which ended shortly after midnight.

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