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The Beatles set the bar too high. In fact, so significantly did they elevate rock music above its primal core; such intricate harmonic substance and studio-based creativity did they bring to the table; so dense and imaginative did their music become, that much of the band's best material was never actually performed live. Fed up with screaming, fainting hordes; lousy PA systems; and poorly routed tours, the Fab Four spent roughly the second half of its existence as solely a studio band. During that time, they made several of the best rock albums extant.

So, if Rain, the band, wanted to be the finest Beatles repertory ensemble going, it was going to have to do what the Beatles themselves never did: re-create the studio magic of albums such as "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band," "Abbey Road" and "The White Album" in real time, on the concert stage.

That Rain members Steve Landes ("John"), Joey Curatolo ("Paul"), Joe Bithorn ("George"), Ralph Castelli ("Ringo") and Mark Lewis (offstage keyboardist) all cut their teeth with the long-running Broadway musical "Beatlemania" is telling, for that production has been heralded as the first to painstakingly re-create the Fabs' intricate studio arrangements in the live setting.

Now, the Rain men have taken that process even further, donning period-specific costumes as needed, re-creating the studio recordings note for note and, most significantly, nailing the full glory of those heavenly Beatles vocal harmonies. More than a decade into its existence, Rain is widely regarded as the pre-eminent touring Beatles tribute band.

Rain performs inside Shea's Performing Arts Center (646 Main St.) at 8 this evening and returns for shows at 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are available through Ticketmaster.

-- Jeff Miers

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