Wednesday night I went to New York to see Rutlemania. If you don't know who the Rutles are, you definitely need to check out their 1978 TV movie, “All you need is cash”. The easiest way to explain the Rutles is that they are a Monty Python-type spoof on the Beatles. Instead of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, you have Nasty, Dirk, Stig, and Barry. Eric Idle is one of the Rutles (Dirk), as is Neil Innes (Nasty). Neil Innes was in the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band in the 1960s—and if you had the privilege (or perhaps misfortune) of seeing “Magical Mystery Tour”, the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band performs there. Neil Innes was also involved with Monty Python. If you caught “Monty Python Live at the Hollywood Bowl,” Neil Innes was the fellow doing the “Urban Spaceman” bit. You can learn more about the Rutles here.
OK, now that we've established who the Rutles were—this was not a show featuring the original Rutles. It was a Beatles cover band called the Fab Four playing the Rutles. My brother-in-law put it best: This is a band who makes its living imitating a famous band, who are imitating a famous band, who were famous for imitating a famous band. Got all of that?
Blender Theater on 23rd St. is a pretty nice venue. I scanned the crowd, and if parents hadn't brought their kids to this, I would probably be one of the youngest people there. Everyone there had to be at least 50, except their kids. OK, maybe not everyone—I at least had a few contemporaries. One guy came in looking a bit mod-ish; if Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend had a love child in their mod days, I think this guy would have been it. I also saw a guy who looked remarkably like Brian Connolly from the Sweet. Of course, it was not Brian Connolly, as Brian Connolly is dead. I dug the zebra-striped pants, though.
The show was pretty good. It was definitely a “tribute”--clips from the Rutles movies played in the background, and the band members acted out scenes from the Rutles history on the stage. They also played the Rutles songs at particular junctures in the film. They had 2 girls appearing with them, who seemed rather unnecessary (though they did play the “wives” of Dirk and Nasty at the end). Most of the acting was pretty poor, and most of the jokes made me groan (though Nasty got a good Paul McCartney-esque zinger in at the end; when the band is breaking up, he tells Dirk, “Why don't you go marry an English hooker? It'll only cost you 40 million.”)
Overall, they did a good job with the songs, and the film clips are always hilarious. I had “Goose Step Mama” stuck in my head for at least the next 24 hours. Some folks sitting near me expressed their disappointment that none of the original Rutles showed up—I think I have to agree with that.
Here is the set list, if my memory serves me well:
Back in 64
Goose Step Mama
Blue Suede Schubert
Hold My Hand
With a Girl Like You
Living in Hope
It's Looking Good
Good Times Roll
Major Happy's Up And Coming Once Upon A Good Time Band
Don't Know Why
Piggy in the Middle
Let's Be Natural
Another Day (part)
Cheese and Onions
Get up and Go
Get Back (by that other group...)