The Beatles concerts which were unfairly forgotten (Part 1)
Washington Coliseum, Wembley, Shea stadium New York, Hollywood Bowl, rooftop gig(!). Each and every venue is legendary which gives flashbacks and goosebumps for anyone thinking of those. But these are just a few amongst all the concerts that The Beatles performed under Brian Epstein’s management (but the rooftop). There are others which were at least as magnificent as the above mentioned ones but have fallen into the blur.
Carnegie Hall 1964
The Beatles invaded the US. Still at the end of 1963 I wanna hold your hand leaked before its US release and was heard by millions already by the time the Beatles first flew across the Atlantic (turned left at Greenland) and arrived to the US east coast. Ed Sullivan and the DJs already made the bed for The Beatles’ success. But there is another man who is mentioned less times that he deserves. American promoter Sid Bernstein who was a great help for The Beatles to be “imported” to the US. In fact he was Brian Epstein’s American associate who ran the business and bookings overseas.
So on 12th February 1964, one day after the famous debut concert in the Washington Coliseum (and three days after the famous Ed Sullivan Show debut) The Beatles rode the train back to New York where 10000 mad teenagers already waited for them at Penn Station. The fabs were transferred to the Plaza Hotel for a quick shower and were smuggled out from the hotel through the kitchen section to leave for Carnegie Hall.
The concert supposed to be a great one, not to mention playing in the Carnegie Hall is not an everyday thing. But nobody recalls this concert because there is no recording (neither audio nor video), there is no “evidence”. Even though Beatles producer George Martin would have liked to record the concert which he was permitted by US Beatles label Capitol but after the American Musicians Association (clearly higher above the label) disallowed the making of any recording. Supposedly it would have been a similarly legendary recording just like the Hollywood Bowl which was released in 2016 alongside the Eight Days a Week Documentary. There were even two concerts that day in the packed Carnegie Hall each of them with 2900 attendees, but The Beatles never returned to play any concerts there.
“Carnegie Hall didn’t have to worry about its sacred property or paintings on the wall. They shook a little bit and they asked me never to come back again!” - Sid Bernstein
The first real stadium concert
Many people and a lot of specialist writers know wrong. New York’s Shea WASN’T the first stadium concert ever in history of rock (and The Beatles)
The guys have nicely done their first winter tour in the US. They recorded A Hard Day’s Night and shot the feature film with the same title. They visited Australia, Hong Kong and The Netherlands. In the meantime Ringo had his tonsils quickly removed when Jimmy Nicol substituted him for a fortnight. All right people, let’s go to the second US tour! During the second one The Beatles popped out from the country to pay some visits to their Canadian buddies (and make some more concerts for the commonwealth too) and they played their and history’s first real stadium concert in Vancouver Empire Stadium on 22nd August 1964 where 20 000 people went crazy to listen to them. And still the Shea concert had to wait a bit more than a year.
Cleveland 1964. Not a coincidence that this one is better to forget.
Still the second US tour. The Beatles mania was definitely on the way up (though it didn’t yet reach its peak) but it was clear The Beatles’ fans nicely (and quickly) piling up. Arriving to Cleveland the fans even broke the police barricades just to wave at their favourite Beatle and after the concert began they nicely pushed the live fence consisting of 100 police officers to the stage. And it was just fuel on the fire that the on site crew tried to calm the mass down. All hell broke loose and by the time The Beatles started playing All My Loving police officers turned up on stage signalling to the boys that “this is the end of the show guys”. But the guys nicely finished their song and only after that they fled to their backstage rather surprised (or shocked) where Brian Epstein himself had to take out some cheeky bastards from the audience. The furious John Lennon told local radio station's host Art Schreiber: "This has never happened to us before(...) We have never had a show stopped. These policemen are a bunch of amateurs." The Beatles manager Brian Epstein also chimed in with a diplomatic response, adding: "The police were absolutely right. This has never happened before, but it was clear to me from the start that there was something very wrong. The enthusiasm of the crowd was building much too early.”
The police decided for the best eventually. A girl was already taken to the ground in the craziness and another 300 would have stomped on her if the show hadn’t stopped and who knows what would have happened afterwards with the organisers The Beatles and the rioters if they just went with the flow. Police intervention was the best decision for everyone.
Eventually the police and the organisers succeeded to calm the mass down and 10 minutes later the concert resumed and The Beatles could complete their gig this time. The Beatles haven’t suffered from the case. Why would they? Unless the fact they were world famous. No other recording is available than the news highlights. If nothing else we should know more about this one for the scuffle.
Still not the Shea
Finishing their 1965 European tour there were two in Spain. Two bullfighting arenas in Madrid and Barcelona. Stadium, arena. Tomato, tomatoe. Whatever we call them, they are big places with grandstands where 20000 people fit to watch the show. And it’s still not the Shea Stadium dear reader.
The concerts were great with the people going wild (but disciplined). Shame that the Spanish news reels weren’t too enthusiastic about The Beatles. Come on, are you guys crazy? In 1965 The Beatles were on their peak (and in the upcoming years too)!
Watch the Madrid Concert here: