Monday, May 19, 2008

First Live Performances for Over 2 Years

The Beatles Live at the RoundhouseThe news that the Beatles are planning to appear on stage again has absolutely delighted every Beatles admirer. But their decision to perform in front of an audience once more seems to be a very sudden turn-about--a complete reversal of everything they have been saying for the past two years.

Many people have already been surprised that the new album has strong tinges of early Beatles about it. Simple cover, simple title, simple tunes. With certain exceptions of course (who said "Revolution").

Their intention, therefore, is to put on a series of shows which will culminate in a final performance which will be filmed for transmission in this country and overseas. Apple Corps managing director, Neil Aspinall, has already been negotiating for the sale of the programme to one of the major companies in the United States.

These are the essential ingredients to every Beatles enterprise now because, as they are running a very big empire with a very large and costly staff so, in turn, anything they do must make a hell of a lot of money to pay for it all.

Big Profits

It is not that they need the money, of course. As you may have read in the paper recently, Northern Songs made almost a million pounds profit this year alone and a very large chunk of this will go to Paul and John.

No, Paul summed up the whole basic idea behind the Apple operation the other week when he said on television that they needed this organisation and power and to make money so that they could do the things that they want to do in the future.

This basically means that they can help and back other talented people in show business. They remember the years when nobody would listen to them or Brian Epstein very well. Then, they were dismissed as being of no consequence. Now, when they come across talented singers or songwriters, the Beatles can offer immediate assistance.

Anything is possible, and they have even carried this into the field of big business with Alexis Mardas, the very talented Greek inventor who is coming up with the most extraordinary ideas which could well revolutionise whole areas, not only of British show business, but industry as well.

The New Year concerts will also do many things. Firstly, it will give the Beatles an opportunity to perform in front of their fans once again. Not a very large number admittedly, only a few thousand--but, nevertheless, it will have happened.

Secondly, the performance, by being shown all over the world, will enable their fans in all those overseas countries to see them probably much better than they would if they were sitting in the back row of a local stadium. And remember that stadiums can only hold a few thousand people whereas on television they are seen by millions.

Last Tour

Ever since that last tour of America, they have been voicing their intense dislike of personal appearances. So, what has happened to change their decision?

The total Beatles' mind is a very complicated thing. It can never be understood fully, but glimpses of the workings of the brains of John, Paul, George and Ringo can help to explain the sharp change of direction.

At the risk of appearing a Beatles heretic, or an infamous follower I, personally, have never believed that they did actually dislike performing on stage. What they got so completely fed up with was the whole business of touring that came before, and after, each performance.

Anyone who has not experienced it can never understand the feeling that they had when they were trapped inside that endless succession of theatres, stadiums and concert halls all round the world. Every hideaway, which was felt to be so impregnable by the local organisers, was found out and surrounded within a matter of hours of their arrival. And to stay in a hotel in the centre of any city was an open invitation to be besieged by thousands of fans every second of every day. Few people can ever have travelled to so many places and seen so little.

The demands of the local adults were also insistent and never ending. Every dignatory and person who felt that they were "somebody" thought that they should be personally greeted by the celebrated English teenybopper kings.

I shall always remember when I visited the Beatles on one of their first tours. We were pushed and shoved into a dressing-room by about 30 policemen who were protecting them from the fans. But, as soon as the Beatles were firmly ensconced in their suite, which consisted of a crummy, very narrow room with a table, four chairs and very little else, the policemen promptly started turning round and asking for autographs. No wonder the boys got fed up with it all.

But, at the same time, I remember very clearly the reactions of the Beatles on stage. I cannot believe that the enjoyment they showed was false. George, in particular, has always been completely transparent. If he is fed up, he shows it. If he is happy, he smiles, and he used to smile a lot during their stage performances.

All the Beatles used to bandy remarks amongst themselves during their act and they took a great deal of pleasure in their ability to send an audience into a state of frenzied enjoyment.

Everyone agrees that the atmosphere of a Beatles performance was unique. Until one had actually sat and heard the sheer sound of their amplification, coupled with the solid wall of teenagers screaming, which always accompanied it, one could not understand their personal magnetism. And, before everyone starts accusing them of favouring a few chosen fans during their performances at the Roundhouse, let's make it clear that they will also be working for all their followers.


But, there's still a lot of work to do before they get on stage. Firstly, they will have to rehearse the numbers and work them up into an act once again. Performing their songs in the recording studio will not enable them to perform equally well on stage. The two are not the same and the boys have always accepted this.

What will the performance actually consist of? Well, at the moment, I understand that they intend to base the whole thing on their new double album, with several oldies thrown in for good measure.

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