The Fab Four that captivated audiences around the world in the early ’60s has returned in the form of an authentic Beatles tribute band with mop tops, custom-made suits and vintage instruments.
The Return performs an exhilarating “Beatlemania” concert experience that newer generations never had the chance to enjoy.
Hosted by Alexander City Arts on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. in the Benjamin Russell High School Auditorium, the imitations of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr will take the stage to excite a crowd of all ages with songs from the early Beatles’ years.
One of their favorite songs to perform is Twist and Shout. Mike Fulop, who plays guitar as Harrison and also is manager for The Return, said it’s the perfect combination of tempo and repetitive lyrics that always works to get people on their feet and dancing.
“We really crave the audience participation. The experience is authentic, with the setup, classic logo, vintage guitars – just looking at the stage is a really cool experience,” said Fulop.
The Return’s performances last about 90 minutes; whereas, The Beatles rarely played for longer than 25 to 30 minutes at a time.
The Return’s original four members joined together in the early ’90s as diehard fans jamming to some of their favorite Beatles songs. While the group never intended to do anything more with it, their band sessions became a local hangout.
After being asked to perform at an event, the group stepped up its presentation for added entertainment by getting into character with black suits and classic instruments.
“We even had a friend dress up like Ed Sullivan to introduce us. That moment still sticks in my memory. It’s the most fun we’ve ever had,” said Fulop.
Afterward, someone approached the band and asked them to play a gig. It snowballed from there, and 23 years later, the band has played internationally and achieved many humbling accomplishments.
Early in its career, The Return, based out of Griffin, Georgia, was asked to play at Atlanta’s Fox 97 oldies concert in front of 50,000 people.
“We got to play on the same bill as a lot of our idols and a lot of Beatles idols. We also played a private event for a tour group in London at Abbey Road Studios where The Beatles recorded 90 percent of its stuff,” said Fulop.
After those two shows, all four band members admitted to being the most nervous they had been in their lives, said Fulop.
The gang also did a five-week tour of Japan around 2015 and performed across 20 cities while diving into a foreign culture. A man who had hired them for a gig nearly 10 years ago is the one who set up that tour.
“We’ve always been trying to put our name out there. It takes years to plan and promote events. Word of mouth and networking with people has helped us tremendously,” Fulop added.
The fundamental basis of The Return is the true exuded authenticity. From Richard Stelling as Lennon chewing gum on stage when playing, to right-handed Mike Vargo as McCartney learning to play bass guitar left-handed. The band members said even the most minor details are significant to a performance.
“It’s mostly how we all make a living, but it tends to go up and down from year to year,” said Fulop.
Adam Thurston is a self-taught drummer who performs as Starr but also owns a hardwood flooring business. Stelling also works for iHeart radio on the side.
Today, The Return plays thousands of shows for theaters, festivals, cruise ships, weddings, corporate events and so much more.
“We are just really excited to come there, and we hope Alexander City is excited for us too,” said Fulop.