Spencer Albee’s annual Beatles Night — a blowout concert featuring a who’s who of Portland musicians doing creative covers of songs by the Fab Four, as well as solo stuff — is always a highlight of the year in music in Portland. This year’s sold-out event on Saturday, Nov. 30 at the State Theatre attracted the attention of Rolling Stone, which ran a flattering review of the concert online this week.
Albee, known for his solo albums, as a former member of Rustic Overtones and for his work with the bands As Fast As and Spencer & the School Spirit Mafia, organizes the event for many reasons — he’s a huge Beatles fan, and an ardent supporter of local music, to name just a few. This year’s event featured performers including soul singer Kenya Hall, alt-pop singer Sara Hallie Richardson, indie-psych songwriter Jeff Beam, rocker Dominic Lavoie, r&b singer Zach Jones, songwriter Melvern Taylor, and Albee’s former bandmate Dave Gutter from Rustic Overtones, who belted out a searing version of “Helter Skelter.”
Rolling Stone writer Patrick Doyle noted that the full string and horn orchestration and the addition of a bagpipe band for a performance of Paul McCartney’s “Mull of Kintyre” took the concert over the top. Doyle noted that “The Beatles remain the toughest band in the world to cover; it even took McCartney decades to learn how to pull his own songs off live. But this show proved those songs can live on long after he stops.”