For the Classic Albums Live band, who will come together to cover the Beatles' penultimate album "Abbey Road" on Friday at Parker Playhouse, the mandate is simple: serious music with zero frills.
Moptops, British accents, Paul's Sgt. Pepper jacket and John's glasses will be banned onstage, as will "flashy personalities," "poetic license" and any costumes that aren't "all-black." Don't call them a "tribute band," either.
"We're really serious about this stuff," says Craig Martin, creator of the Toronto-based Classic Albums Live, which re-creates, note for note, the strongest albums of the past 50 years. "We aren't a tribute band, because we're great, and tribute bands are terrible. We aren't four guys with beards performing who look like they should work at Burger King full-time. We try to remove any personality and faithfully re-create music that endures, so we can transport listeners back to the past."
The 10-piece band will not shave one second off the 47-minute-and-23-second running time of "Abbey Road," which includes Lennon's blues-soaked "I Want You (She's So Heavy)," Harrison's plucky "Here Comes the Sun" and the crescendo-heavy medley "Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End." So faithful will Classic Albums Live be to the material that concertgoers should hear the album's fade-outs as performers transition between songs, along with trickier noises that populate tracks such as the Ringo Starr-written "Octopus's Garden."
"We fill up a glass with water and we blow bubbles just to make that sound," says Martin, who formed the band 11 years ago after quitting his own Rolling Stones-Doors tribute band. "That song is tough, but 'Here Comes the Sun' is tougher, because it's really six distinct harmony vocals, plus you have to nail Harrison's complex guitar flourishes. Every kid who's ever been born after 1960 knows the lyrics to this song, and that's a scientific fact, man."
The "Abbey Road" tribute — OK, faithful re-creation — is the first of three Classic Albums Live concerts planned for this summer. The series will continue on Aug. 14 with Elton John's "Greatest Hits" and on Sept. 11 with Prince's "Purple Rain."
At Parker Playhouse, after the band completes "Abbey Road," Martin says they will take on several of the Beatles' greatest hits and deepest cuts, including "A Day in the Life," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" and a German-language "She Loves You."
"I found this little niche where people want to hear music done properly," Martin says. "What we're doing isn't that new. Like your local philharmonic is covering Bach, we cover the Beatles. Except the Beatles have sold way more records than Bach."
Classic Albums Live! will begin 8 p.m. Friday at Parker Playhouse, 707 NE Eighth St., in Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $19-$49, $69 for VIP. Call 954-462-0222 or go to ParkerPlayhouse.com.