Steven Page aims for more than tribute with Beatles concert

The Beatles exemplify the enduring power of pop music — more than 50 years old but still playing in headphones everywhere. Steven Page, the former Barenaked Lady, is performing songs from his favourite band on Thursday.

Former Barenaked Lady adding symphony to Sgt. Pepper's songs

Steven Page. (Steven Page)

The Beatles exemplify the enduring power of pop music — more than half a century old but still playing in headphones everywhere.

In December, the music of the Beatles appeared on streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music for the first time. In the first three days, Beatles songs were played 70 million times.

"They are the standards of the last 50 years," said songwriter and former Barenaked Lady Steven Page.

Page has long been an encyclopedic Beatles fan, and credits the band with greatly influencing his own music.

On Thursday, he mounts a tribute to the Beatles, singing the songs of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band at the Sony Centre with the Art Of Time Ensemble.

Steven Page and the Art of Ensemble performing songs from Sgt. Pepper's.

He told Metro Morning host Matt Galloway that the Beatles are a part of life for a lot people, including him.

"They were the ones who made me want to make records," he said. He remembered lying on his parents' floor, with his "giant Radio Shack" headphones, getting excited about songs like For No One, off of the album Revolver.

"I remember hearing it as a seven or eight-year-old, and feeling emotionally overwhelmed," he said.

Page talked also about the shorter songs on the self-titled album The Beatles, better known as the White Album. Those songs were unlike any other songs Page was hearing at the time.

"Early on, that allowed me and millions of other songwriters a whole bunch a freedom to write songs that didn't have to fit in the standard rock and pop format," he said.

His own band, the Barenaked Ladies, sold more than 15 million albums and were nominated for Grammys. However in their early years, they were dismissed as a novelty band.

Page said knowing the Beatles could make albums like Yellow Submarine and still achieve critical and commercial success was a motivator to not let the criticism of his band get to him.

"That eclecticism was pretty unique to them," he said.

Page said he is performing one of the band's best-known and most complex albums, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, in part to honour the band, but he wants to do more than that.

"The songs are so inside my body as it is, I know the songs so well and I know where they sit in my vocal range. But there is a bit of a burden to it," he said. "We don't want to do a Beatles cover or tribute show."

To add another element to his performance, Page has added a full symphony to the songs.

Page is performing the songs of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band at the Sony Centre with the Art Of Time Ensemble. 


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