MARTIN LEA finds that the quality of Mersey is not strained where the West Country's Fab Beatles are concerned...

IT'S BEEN a hard day's night, but nowhere man Kev Day reckons he can get by with a little help from his friends.

He's determined to forget about yesterday and do a little twisting and shouting to please the taxman, and reckons he'll be doing it when he's 64!

For Kev is John Lennon, the frontman with the most successful pop band in the world - ever.

But wait! The Beatles split 30 years ago, and the great man Lennon was gunned down in 1980.

In fact, Kev leads The Fab Beatles, a highly acclaimed tribute band that is about to hit the big time thanks to an appearance on a primetime BBC1 entertainment show.

Kev and his pals Andy Southard (Paul McCartney), Lyndon Wilson (George Harrison) and Matt Willis (Ringo Starr) have made a name for themselves in Dorset and have an enthusiastic following at the Excise House pub in Weymouth, where they play regularly.

Kev was so impressed with the crowd at the Excise House that when a BBC producer expressed interest in seeing them, Kev suggested he pay a visit to the resort to watch them play.

"The guy said he would stay for ten minutes to check us out," Kev explains.

"He ended up staying all night, he was blown away. The next day he phoned and told us we had the slot. It was brilliant."

He added: "I knew that if we could get the guy to Weymouth we would stand a great chance of impressing him, purely by audience response.

"Once again, the people of Weymouth didn't let us down. The atmosphere was electric.

"We would like to extend a massive thank-you to the people of Weymouth, especially those at the Excise House."

The Fab Beatles were invited to London earlier this year to take part in the recording of the Battle of the Fantasy Bands after being chosen from six other Beatles tribute bands from around the country.

Other groups appearing on the programme include tributes to T-Rex, the Rolling Stones, Abba, the Bee Gees and U2, and in an effort to determine the 'ultimate' tribute band the BBC asks the studio audience to vote for their favourite.

The Battle of the Fantasy Bands is due to be screened on BBC1 tonight, and without giving too much away, Kev says the band really enjoyed the performance - and being interviewed by Ulrika Johnson - and they are now looking forward to any opportunities that may arise from their appearance.

He said: "We had to play one song live and it was decided it should be A Hard Day's Night.

"We were the first to go, and after an introduction from Terry Wogan we went into the song and did it in one take. The producer was extremely pleased and decided we would not have to do it again, unlike all the other acts.

"We were very honoured to be part of the show and cannot wait to see the broadcast."

Lifelong Beatles fan Kev, who is 33 and an engineer by trade, formed the Fab Beatles with similar-minded old school mates in Exeter in 1991.

"We played a few Beatles songs at a gig once and someone told us it really moved them. We just went from there, really, and have built it up since then," Kev explains.

"Someone said I really looked like John Lennon too."

Indeed, John Lennon's cousin, Stan Parkes, said of the band after they sent him a copy of their live CD: "Kev is a dead ringer for our John, and sounds just like him."

The Fab Beatles have performed all over the UK and Ireland as well as appearing in Canada, the Caribbean, Denmark, Germany, Holland and France. They received the ultimate approval from the people of Liverpool when they played to a packed audience at the Beatles exhibition on the famous Albert Dock two years ago.

They turned professional in 1998 and are now widely regarded as the best sounding and looking Beatles tribute band in the UK, and pride themselves on total authenticity.

In the summer they were the choice of television chat-show host Michael Parkinson to provide the entertainment for his annual dinner and celebrity cricket match on a bill that included Rolf Harris and Kenny Lynch among others. 'Parky' said afterwards: "The Fab Beatles are truly fab, and I know because I saw the other lot."

The band's shows comprise sets depicting all the main eras of the Beatles' career, from the Cavern Club/Hamburg/Mop-Top period through to Rubber Soul and Revolver, Sgt Pepper and Magical Mystery Tour and finishing up with the songs from the Abbey Road and Let It Be albums.

Each era is animated using the exact musical equipment used by the Beatles including Rickenbacker and Gretsch guitars, Paul McCartney's Hofner violin bass and Ringo Starr's classic Ludwig drum kit.

The band also wears authentic costumes, from the early collarless suits to the splendour of the full Sgt Pepper regalia.

They now even have their own fanzine, 'Good-day Sunshine', to inform followers of all the latest gig news and developments in the band.

But is this all going too far? Kev doesn't seem to think so.

His passion for pop music and love of the live music scene keeps him happy and a very busy man.

"I don't care what people think about tribute bands. If an audience is having a good time then I believe that's all that matters. I like to think we're very accurate, and although we can play our own songs we really enjoy playing the Beatles," he says.

And he adds: "As musicians we believe the Beatles had exactly the right formula and that's why they were so successful, it is perfect pop. Everything about the Beatles is very cool and their music is fantastic."

* If you would like to contact the Fab Beatles, call (01392) 278960 or e-mail: