All performers kicked off their lengthy first set with “Back in the U.S.S.R.” and it was followed by “Dear Prudence,” where Jason Scheff (formerly of Chicago) nailed the lead vocals as blue lights dimmed from the stage.
Todd Rundgren went on to sing lead on the uptempo and rocking “Everybody’s Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey.” Singer-songwriter Christopher Cross delivered a compelling rendition of the piano-driven “Martha My Dear,” while Joey Molland picked up the pace with an enthralling version of “Savoy Truffle.”
Mickey Dolenz of The Monkees welcomed the Long Island audience to the “Beatles White Album” Tour. “You are going to hear a lot of music tonight,” he said, prior to noting that there will be a lot of “special songs,” and a lot of the musicians will be doing solo versions of songs from their solo careers or bands.
In particular, he shared that he had songs written for him by such artists as “Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, and even Neil Armstrong,” jokingly. Speaking of Neil Diamond, he went on to serenade the audience to his popular composition, “I’m a Believer,” as everybody was singing and clapping along. This timeless classic of The Monkees earned a standing ovation.
While he was up on stage, Dolenz went on to perform “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” which was written by such iconic songwriters as Gerry Goffin and Carole King. He underscored the importance of songwriters. “Without songwriters, we would be up here doing nothing,” Dolenz acknowledged.
Joey Molland took the stage to belt out some Badfinger hits as “Baby Blue,” where a blue backdrop graced the stage, as well as “No Matter What,” which ironically enough, was produced by Todd Rundgren, and Rundgren joined Molland on the harmony vocals. “Is the sound okay?” Molland asked, and the answer from the audience was a resounding “yes.” He also described “No Matter What” as their second-biggest hit.
Jason Scheff went on to belt out two Chicago classics “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” where he accompanied himself on the keyboards and “25 or 6 to 4,” where he and Rundgren displayed their intricate guitar work, and this performance garnered a standing ovation. Scheff expressed his appreciation for being on this tour. “It is such an amazing thing to be standing here with these amazing artists,” Scheff admitted.
Veteran rock star Todd Rundgren
Eva Rinaldi Photography
Rundgren was exceptional on his smash hits “I Saw the Light” and delivered a solid version of Nazz’s “Hello It’s Me,” where he managed to get the fans to wave their hands up in the air. “I know you know the words to this song. Help us out,” Rundgren said, and they obeyed his command.
They all gave a shoutout to their musical director, Joey Curatolo, who also served as the musical director of Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles.
Christopher Cross, who was introduced by Rundgren as “Captain Christopher Cross,” allowed his velvet voice to shine on the smooth ballad “Sailing,” and he took the fans on a trip to 1980 with “Ride Like the Wind” and tipped his hat to The Beatles with “Honey Pie.”
Dolenz noted that Paul McCartney wrote a song that asked an important question “Why Don’t We Do It in the Road?” “Now, I am going to ask that question to you,” he said and performed the tune. Rundgren closed the first act of the show with a poignant version of “While My Guitar Gently Weeps,” where he paid tribute to the late but great songwriter George Harrison. Following a standing ovation, Rundgren threw his guitar pick to the crowd.
After a brief intermission, Christopher Cross took the stage to sing The Beatles’ “Blackbird,” as well as “I Will” and “Julia,” where he was joined with Scheff. Equally sensational was “Mother Nature’s Son.”
Sitting on a stool, as the stage was graced in fuchsia lights, Dolenz showcased his storytelling ability on “Rocky Raccoon,” while Joey Molland rocked “Revolution 1.”
After an outfit change, Todd Rundgren returned to the stage and threw flowers in the audience during his rendition of the witty “Sexy Sadie,” which was well-received. Dolenz soared on “I’m So Tired” and “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.”
The highlight song from Todd Rundgren was “The Continuing Story of Bungalow Bill,” where he underwent yet another outfit change and brought his water gun on stage.
Scheff allowed his mellow vocals to shine on The Beatles’ “Piggies,” and he picked up the face with the fan-favorite “Glass Onion.” Rundgren belted out the vivacious “Helter Skelter” and all musicians joined Micky Dolenz on stage for a grand finale of “Birthday.” If over 30 songs weren’t enough, they all returned for an encore, where they performed The Beatles’ “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.”
Overall, Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, Todd Rundgren, Jason Scheff, Christopher Cross, and Joey Molland gave The Beatles an amazing tribute at the Theatre at Westbury. The Beatles’ seminal White album never sounded more compelling, and it is as relevant today as when they first released it well over five decades ago. All of the musicians gave it the respect that it truly deserves.
Based on this show at the Theatre at Westbury, it is event that Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, Todd Rundgren and Joey Molland of Badfinger deserve their own spot in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as they are living rock legends in their own right. Their Beatles tribute concert garnered five out of five stars. Well done.