Sixtiesmania Rocks The Castaways
     
     Reviewed February 5, 2003
     by David Berman
     dberman@concentric.net 

Every decade can be characterized by the music of the era, music that we often feel nostalgia for because of the events in our lives at the times specific tunes were popular. And few decades were as rich as the 1960s. You could start and end with The Beatles, of course, and that would almost be enough to make the ‘60s unforgettable.

But there were many others who burst upon the scene to enrich the lives of those who lived through the decade, including The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys, Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, and so many others whose "greatest hits" still resonate today.

A group called Sixtiesmania, currently performing in The Castaways’ Windjammer Lounge, exploits and celebrates the music of the ‘60s in a way that is building audiences so fast that many nights are standing-room only.

Sixtiesmania is not just a band; it is a SHOWBAND presenting a two-and-a-half-hour review that spans the decade through the use of multimedia, dancing, many costume changes, near-perfect impressions of legendary performers, and excellent musicianship which does not rely on lip-synching or recorded soundtracks.

The group consists of nine performers: five male singer-musicians and a quartet of female dancers called The Curvettes. The founder and leader is Australian Andrew Hill, a left-handed bass player a la Paul McCartney. Three members of the band are Aussies and two are American, while the dancers are all Canadian.

The period mood is set with the help of projected slides using screens at both sides of the stage. As the various songs are performed, we see slides of photos, newspaper headlines, album covers, colorful graphics, etc. The show opens with the curtains parting to reveal the band as Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, and in short order we are treated to The Beatles; The Stones; The Kinks; Gerry and the Pacemakers as well as other stars of the British Invasion; Del Shannon; Dion & The Belmonts; The Beach Boys; and many, many others. And while the band plays and struts (a more than passable Mick Jagger), The Curvettes return again and again to the stage in new costumes and with expertly choreographed routines.

Except for occasional fill-in tracks recorded by the band itself, all the music is performed live, as are all the instrumentals. And in order to enhance authenticity, many vintage guitars and other instruments are used, including instruments from Rickenbacker, Hohner, Gretsch, Fender and Gibson.

After intermission, the band returns to the stage in their Sgt. Pepper outfits for more Beatles music, and then "The Age of Aquarius" moves us into the Woodstock-Flower Power period with colorful costumes, psychedelic lighting and hits from The Doors, Byrds, Monkees, CCR, Loving Spoonful, and more of the Stones.

Sixtiesmania then enters the controversial Vietnam period in military camouflage uniforms, with smoke and lights, the sound of helicopters overhead, and some of the classic anthem songs from this era. Starting with The Guess Who’s "American Woman" and Steppenwolf’s "Born To Be Wild," it is a fascinating evocation of an incredible time in the American experience.

There are many individual highlights by the members of Sixtiesmania. The Curvettes take center stage for a real trip down memory lane with Nancy Sinatra’s "These Boots Are Made For Walking," and the entire room falls silent when one of the group becomes a stylized Frank Sinatra for a rendition of "My Way."

Not all the songs performed in the show are mentioned here, but you’ll surely remember the exciting end to the evening as Neil Diamond is captured in all his glory.

I think no one would begrudge paying upwards of $30 to see Sixtiesmania. But do you know how much it actually costs to see it? NOTHING!! That’s right, the show is absolutely free. There is also no cover or minimum in the lounge, and drinks are remarkably inexpensive. "Sixtiesmania" is performed Wednesdays through Sundays at 8:00 p.m., and the greatest risk you’ll incur is a hoarse throat the next day after singing along with many of the songs at the top of your voice, sharing in the joyous energy generated by your fellow audience members.

<<< Back