September 17, 2016

Eight Days A Week: The Beatles - The Touring Years

I've seen many Beatles documentaries, and this one is one of the best. Instead of covering the band's whole career well, director Ron Howard documents one aspect of their career comprehensively (touring 1963-1966). I have seen some of the concert footage in this movie before, but

  • Not with perfectly remastered picture
  • Not with original audio - usually documentaries only have the film, so they play the Beatles records over the footage. This doc has the original audio to go with the film footage.
  • Not without narration - usually concert footage is played under documentary narration to save time
  • Not at length - several sequences are shown in long unbroken stretches.

What did I learn as a longtime Beatles fan?
The Beatles touring years blazed the trail for modern pop concerts in arenas and stadia. The Beatles had to play bigger and bigger venues to satisfy demand: "you can't have 2,000 fans inside a theater and 10,000 more fans on the street tearing themselves apart" was the reality. Their PA equipment was completely inadequate to broadcast their music to a screaming crowd. There was zero stage monitoring equipment, so they could not hear themselves. The kids showed up to see The Beatles, and that's all they could do.
Local police forces were completely incapable for dealing with the crowds. There was zero security for the band - the footage of Paul elbowing people through a scrum to make it from the limo to the stage door is jaw-dropping. Just imagine Taylor Swift or Beyonce fighting their way through a crowd of police and fans today!
Coolidge Corner Theater, sitting directly behind Red Sox owner John Henry