(PITTSFIELD) — A splendid time was guaranteed — and had — by all Friday night [July 21, 2017] at a packed Boland Theater on the BCC campus. BEATLESQUE, city-based musician Mick Valenti‘s brainchild band recreating a note-for-note chronological retrospective of the Fab Four‘s astounding career on record gave the SRO crowd a “splendid” show, a generous three hours not counting intermission. Judging by audience reaction, BEATLESQUE could have played three more hours and the encores would still have come.

There are plenty of Beatle tribute bands. They try to recreate a live Beatles’show, with costumes, wigs, etc. None do what BEATLESQUE does, which is to present a note-for-note replication of what you hear on the albums. It is an incredibly difficult musical task to perform live. Incredibly, BEATLESQUE pulled it off in a way that made jaws drop, hands clap, and feet dance. The audience had F-U-N. Concertgoers: When was the last time you saw and heard that happen?

The Beatles lasted barely 10 years as a group but gave the world an immortal repertoire of work. Before 500 loudly appreciative fans, BEATLESQUE’s six members presented a show (in every sense) that had the audience on their feet at the end. Fittingly enough, the haunting “A Day in the Life” from the seminal Sgt. Pepper concluded the show. Justifiably billed as a John Lennon look- and sound-alike, Valenti channeled Lennon as the band hit every note, including the two famous orchestral builds and the final, definitive End Chord. As that last note rode its lasting fade, the audience jumped up and gave the band a Standing O. It’s hard to imagine a more satisfying concert taking place this or any year.

The scene for live music in Pittsfield is dead. The best young people (and old) get are Live on the Lake dirges. What this critic found refreshing was the number of young people in attendance for BEATLESQUE. Clearly they agree. The most common question I heard among the outgoing crowd was “When are these guys going to be playing in the area next?”

Adding a star touch to the evening was special guest Steve Holley, who drummed for Paul McCartney‘s band WINGS from 1971 to 1978. Holley clearly enjoyed himself, adding terrific drum fills and even doing vocals: backup and the lead in the crow-pleaser “A Little Help from My Friends.” His English accent provided a nice “accent” echoing the famous British Invasion led by The Beatles in the mid-1960s. Snagging a talent like Holley was a feather in the cap for the show’s producers. Holley, clearly enjoying his stint, drummed with creativity and energy. He mixed with BEATLESQE seamlessly.

Jay Fruet played a flawless lead guitar, recreating George Harrison‘s leads as close the the records as can be done. He had great chemistry with the material and musicians, especially with guitarist Cliff Ducharme. A highlight was a spot-on live double lead guitar by Fruet and Ducharme in the middle of “And Your Bird Can Sing.” Hearing was believing. Ducharme also picked up a Hofner bass on some songs.

Andre LeBlanc and Jim Stankiewicz played keyboards. The latter handled orchestral arrangements with precise flair (think the beautiful string quartet of “Eleanor Rigby”). Both shared backing vocals, with LeBlanc handling many of the Paul McCartney lead vocals, along with drummer Bob Balawender. It should be noted that LeBlanc played lead and bass guitars, switching from his white piano effortlessly. Stankiewicz contributed other-worldly keyboard sounds as well as various percussion fills. Behind his Ludwig drum kit Balawender reproduced Ringo Starr‘s unique drumming style to perfection. He also well handled MC duties The members of BEATLESQUE have more than 300 combined years playing for music lovers. Their professionalism showed in how band member changed instruments based on the particular song, all summed up by the word versatility.

Valenti was the band’s driving force. He channeled John Lennon with such pitch-perfect authenticty that you had to remind yourself it wasn’t Lennon himself. It was at times alternately rousing, joyful, and chilling, sometimes all three. Situated in the spotlight at center stage, he carried a heavy musical responsibility with the lion’s share of lead vocals, making it seem feathery light. Valenti also played a flawless rhythm guitar, fittingly enough a black Rickenbacher and a Gibson sunburst acoustic. You could see Holley and the rest of the band drawing energy from him. The band, in turn, pumped him up. It is such fun for an audience when you witness a live band meshing together with so much exuberance. It was literally a group effort in the best sense. Valenti has an amazing voice, a silvery, operatic instrument in its own right. He has toured the world with his previous groups (QUARRY, QUICK FOX, and others). BEATLESQUE adds another triumph in his long and successful musical career. In Fruet, LeBlanc, Stankiewicz, Ducharme, and Balawender, he has found the proper setting for this latest musical gem. Each is a veteran musician of a number of local and regional bands.

At a modest $25, tickets for BEATLESQUE proved a bargain. Part of the proceeds from the night went to Rock-On, the musical camp conducted by Fruet at BCC. In fact, five of the Rock-On students joined the band on stage for “Hey Jude” and “Sgt. Pepper.” It had to be a tremendous thrill for these talented young people. Fruet is to be commended for giving his time and talents to such a great community effort.

(Melissa Renzer is a communications and theater double major at Syracuse University)


“In my life, I loved you more.” — John Lennon



The Usual Disclaimer.



  1. Jonathan Melle
    July 23, 2017 at 8:32 pm #

    It’s my 42nd birthday today. I saw the new Planet of the Apes movie. I enjoyed it. I have watched every Planet of the Apes movie. We should all live together in peace. I love my dog! He fills my life with happiness.

    • Pat
      July 24, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

      Happy birthday Jonathan!!!!

      • dusty
        July 24, 2017 at 2:37 pm #

        Happy Birthday Johnathon. And if you really like the planet of the apes theme there is a long running version taking place in Washington D. C. as we speak. It takes you back in time to before the apes got smart. Enjoy!

        • Pat
          July 24, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

          Liberals are so nasty.

          • dusty
            July 25, 2017 at 1:15 am #

            …but I did not say anything about the apes “bleeding from wherever.” Now that would be nasty. Right Pat?

        • Pat
          July 25, 2017 at 6:01 am #

          Trump is doing a really good job and liberals can’t handle it. He gave an excellent speech yesterday about Obamacare. I know from personal experience how BAD Obamacare really is. Obamacare is imploding. Democrats are obstructing.

          Also Dusty, Bill Clinton was actually doing nasty stuff in the White House and I don’t recall Democrat women marching on Washington in protest. I don’t recall them referring to Bill Clinton as an unintelligent ape. In fact they were willing to put he and his wife back in the White House.

          • The school committee
            July 25, 2017 at 4:19 pm #

            Please explain the really good job ,you and Hannity and 3 pretend people on Fox.A billionaire wants healthcare money for tax breaks is not a good job.Also irrational behavior and Russian ties is not a good job.America needs jobs,and a higher min. Wage.His one and only cause is to dismantle SS,MEDICARE and medicade….Trump is taking you 3rd world…wake up

          • Pat
            July 25, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

            The only ones who have been taking us backwards have been the Progressives. The Berkshires have gone seriously downhill with the Progressives in charge.

  2. Kate Dempsey
    July 24, 2017 at 1:51 pm #

    Dan, that sounds great! Growing up, I was more of a Led Zeppelin-type fan. But as I get older, the more and more I like The Beatles. I was out of town, but would have loved to have been there. Nice Review.

  3. music lover
    July 24, 2017 at 7:01 pm #

    A great show, but sad the reviewer had to poison the review by taking a cheap shot at local musicians who play Live on the Lake. I’m sure the Beatlesque band members, and Steve Holley who I understand is a class act, would be disgusted by such a comment. Ms. Renzer should think twice before needlessly insulting local talent, particularly since most of the guys in Beatlesque have been playing in local bands for years!

    • danvalenti
      July 24, 2017 at 8:01 pm #

      Ms. Renzer had the chance to revise her original review (one of the great advantages of online vs. print coverage). She added a few more details and did some minor revisions, including the paragraph you noted. We thank you for your views, ML. For the record, she said she meant no slight to local bands but, as a young person “stranded in Pittsfield for the summer,” [her words] she was trying to express the common frustration felt by young people her age regarding the lack of a social scene and night life.

      • Thomas More
        July 25, 2017 at 7:51 am #

        In other words when you print online you don’t own your words. You can change what you said and those who read later will never know.

        • The school committee
          July 25, 2017 at 4:54 pm #

          Trump taught us this,lie then lie again.

          • Pat
            July 25, 2017 at 6:01 pm #

            No that would be the liberal media that lies and lies again.

        • danvalenti
          July 25, 2017 at 6:36 pm #

          It has nothing to do with “owning your own words.” Rather, it’s a matter of caring about your readers and wanting to put the best, most complete product possible. Moreover, the practice isn’t reserved for online journalism. Back in the day, I wrote reviews for the Syracuse Post-Standard (books, film, concerts). We had seven — count ’em, seven — editions. I remember reviewing QUEEN at the War Memorial Auditorium. Thin Lizzy opened. To meet the first edition deadline, I had a little more than 20 minutes to bang out a quickie critique. By the time the Metro edition came out (the final) the city editor, George Carr, had me revise it to flush it out. The word for that is “professional.”

  4. Ellsworth
    July 24, 2017 at 7:33 pm #

    Attended the show with friends. I agree with the reviewer. Best Beatles show I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen a lot incl. Rain. Hope to see them again. Beatlesque that is.

  5. H
    July 25, 2017 at 7:41 am #

    Fruet could had been anything, including a rock star, one of the best anywhere.

  6. h
    July 25, 2017 at 3:59 pm #

    Anyone see the Mayor highlight Lewey Lents former apartment building on Tyler Street next to the Hess Forest.

  7. dusty
    July 25, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

    At one point on Hubbard Ave in Pittsfield there is a somewhat narrow underpass. The city cannot widen it without upsetting the RR folk. But under tracks on one side of the roadway there is a storm grate. And the storm grate is gradually sinking deeper into the sub strata. It is a kind of dangerous narrow passageway as it is but now people are trying to dodge the grate so as not to bust a wheel and not hit any oncoming vehicles at the same time.

    It would be nice to see some proactive action taken on this and I might add the whole road is kind of crappy. I understand this is a choke point on a major roadway and would cause serious logistical management of traffic. But the option is to wait until the grate drops into the sewer and then do it at a much more inconvenient time.

    • Pat
      July 25, 2017 at 6:05 pm #

      Progressives are not known for being proactive. They only know how to tax people into oblivion which is why the Berkshires continues its downward slide.

      • Shakes His Head
        July 26, 2017 at 3:16 pm #

        The city should spend the $35 million dollars to fix that bridge.

  8. Michele
    July 25, 2017 at 5:32 pm #

    Glad the show was a hit !!!! Love all the guys involved and have played with some of them through out the years. Sorry I missed it as I was playing out myself,so I have to disagree that music is dead in the Berkshires…you can find live music almost any night of the week with great local musicians giving it their all!!!

    • danvalenti
      July 25, 2017 at 6:37 pm #

      Thanks, MICHELLE. I agree. There are still many dedicated local musicians “giving it their all.” THE PLANET salutes them.

  9. Koz
    July 25, 2017 at 6:41 pm #

    Why the pen name for this column?

    • danvalenti
      July 27, 2017 at 7:09 pm #

      Ms. Renzer uses a nome de plume for both her writing and her acting. Strictly the writer’s preference.

  10. Tim
    July 25, 2017 at 8:47 pm #

    Also, i went to the show. I enjoyed it. . . a fun night out.

  11. Bill
    July 26, 2017 at 11:27 pm #

    I know Mick Valenti well and can assure you that he does NOT need a device to sound like John Lennon. He does use it to get the same effects John uses on some songs- echo, etc. But his vocal quality without effects is very similar to Johns naturally.

    To say he relies on the effect to sound like John Lennon implies he cannot do that naturally….and that is completely untrue.
    He even sounds like John Lennon when he talks (except for the accent.)