Top of the Mop Tops

American English brings Beatlemania to Peoria

I read the news today, oh boy, about a tribute band who made the grade. Even so, when covering such an iconic group as the Beatles, any musician has more to fear than a few Blue Meanies.
Still, aging hipsters and their modern day counterparts have much to praise with American English, a cover band who has remained faithful to the boys’ signature sound.
Peoria music fans alone have had a number of chances to re-experience Beatlemania, with the band appearing at both AmerenCILCO’s Summer Serenades and Morton’s Pumpkin Festival. At this rate, even the Riverfront will start resembling a certain port town by the name of Liverpool.
Then again, this isn’t much of a stretch considering American English’s international roots. While now primarily bound to Illinois-based venues, the band initially jumpstarted its career with tours in both Japan and the Caribbean.
Further success followed with the addition of manager Sam Leach, the real Fab Four’s promoter from its early days. However, it didn’t take much to convince the English native to relive his youth with a couple of American imitators. After seeing the faux band members perform with their stiff collarless suits and mop-top hair, the former leader of the Merseybeat movement was sold.
“They are the Beatles incarnate!” he said on the group’s Web site, and after seeing American English live, even the most devoted fans would be hard pressed to disagree.
Each member of the band gives a spot-on performance of their respective Beatle, a challenge considering the parts require more than just Liverpudlian accents.
Eric Michaels, who plays Paul McCartney, is especially noteworthy, with the actor inhabiting every aspect of the former Wings frontman. Although seasoned Beatles enthusiasts will likely realize the inherent difficulties of the role, neophyte followers might not.
While the cute one has always been renowned for his vocal talents, his unique left-handed strumming has become a constant barrier for most McCartney impersonators. Michaels doesn’t disappoint, however, delivering such bass- and guitar-driven classics such as “Come Together” and “Yesterday” in their correct orientation.
Yet even the other band members live up to their better-known personas, from Young Hines’ effortless mimicking of John Lennon’s falsetto, to Doug Couture nailing George Harrison’s famed solos. Tom Gable also manages to successfully replicate every detail of Ringo Starr’s unorthodox drumming style, right down to even over handing the hi-hat.
Interestingly, American English caters not only to the purists in the audience, but also the aesthetic-obsessed ones, too. For some, having the act down is only half the battle, with “the look” also being of prime importance to those wanting to completely immerse themselves into the 1960s. 
The show achieves just that, with the band’s rotating costume line including the clean-cut suits from “The Ed Sullivan Show,” the “Sgt. Pepper” garb from the psychedelic era and the instantly recognizable getups from the cover of “Abbey Road.” By combining this Cher-like trait with its inherent ability to channel the real-life counterparts, American English can really make some fans do a double take.
On the other hand, this suspension of belief may not appeal to all Beatles buffs. While American English puts out carbon copies of the group’s classic songs, the four members still aren’t John, Paul, George and Ringo. In this case, those only accepting of the “real thing” should instead stay at home with their turntables and Parlophone-pressed records. 
But those willing to look past this, and realize a reunion would be nigh impossible, will have a fab time rocking out to some old favorites.