STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
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In the ‘80s they were a regularly featured band at the former Ambler Cabaret, plus many other venues throughout the tri-state area.
In a phone review Beru Revue founder and frontman Bob Beru tried unsuccessfully to recall the name of the place in Perkasie where the kitsch-theatrical band frequently played.
Marking 35 years since their first show in Upper Darby — an affair when the volume was so loud that the band members were taken into police custody for violating the noise ordinance — Beru Revue will make their first-ever appearance at Sellersville Theater March 25 with a show titled “The Miracle of Spring VIII (or So).”
“It’s a nice combination of seats and dance area,” said Beru.
The band’s reputation around the region spread as they added makeup, costumes and props related to Beru’s often-politically-incorrect original songs about religion, booze, death and rebirth (along with a non sequitur rock cover of “Moon River”). “Think Alice Cooper meets Gilbert and Sullivan on steroids, with a good dose of silly fun,” Beru said in a press release promoting the Sellersville show.
For a song called “Papal SWAT Team,” Beru — who describes himself as a “Buddhist Roman Catholic” — dons recognizable vestments and carries a Christian flag. At Thanksgiving he wears a turkey costume when singing a song called “Gobble, Gobble, Gobble (Who Wants to Hobble?).” Use your imagination for what they might do with numbers like “Oliver Twist” or “It’s Good to be the King.”
“Back in the day, people would actually bring trash to the show. It would be an improv thing,” Beru said of the origins of the band’s stage show, which grew to include pirate, prisoner and flower costumes.
Beru Revue even received some local radio airplay on WMMR and WYSP, thanks to the song “Hoods A Go-Go.” When asked where he was when he first heard the song on the airwaves, Beru said: “I imagine I was on Ninth Street. I was living at Ninth and Pine or 12th and Pine. I was probably in the car hunkered down.”
In “Review of Beru Revue,” a recently produced documentary on the band, ‘MMR DJ Pierre Robert, who was the best man in Beru’s wedding, talks about why he’s always been a fan. “It’s tongue in cheek, it’s laughter, it’s joyous, it’s uplifting …,” he said.
Splitting up in 1988 to start families, travel, pursue other career opportunities, etc., Beru Revue began playing a series of reunion shows after bassist Johnny Sacks passed away after a battle with cancer. Since 2006, they’ve appeared at World Café Live, TLA, Ardmore Music Hall, Grape Street Pub and the Electric Factory, among others, paving the way for a third generation of fans.
“It’s a niche thing, I get it. I’m always tickled pink (to see people come to the shows),” said Beru.
The current cast of characters is guitarists Greg Davis and Mark Julian Teague, Jerry Getz on bass, drummer Tommy Pinto and new special additions of John Ferenzik on keyboards, E.J. Simpson on mandolin and Nita Slater on vocals.
“It’s a three-hour knockdown. We get after it. We try to infuse our energy into the room. If I do my job correctly, their jaws should be dropped. If they saw us back in the day, they’ll know half (the songs in the set),” said Beru.