Sunday, January 25, 2009

January 16, 1964 - Théâtre de l'Olympia, Paris

Taped: Thursday 16 January 1964

The afternoon matinee was sold out to fans whereas the evening audience was made up of more expensively dressed, older Parisians who wanted to see what all the fuss was about. The ancient music hall was not equipped for modern amplification and the fuses blew three times as the theatre could not supply enough power for their amps. Mal rushed on stage to make emergency repairs. There were no screams or shrieks, but the audience clapped in time and appreciated the music. George: "We miss the screams, but the audiences are great. Now roll on America."

The audience was well behaved, but backstage a riot was going on. Cameramen were everywhere and an argument erupted when a French photographer was not allowed in to take exclusive pictures. A fight broke out which spilled onto the stage. George had to move quickly to prevent his guitar from being damaged by the brawling mob and Paul stopped singing to call for order. Gendarmes arrived and added to the chaos. No one was allowed backstage for the remaining dates.

The Olympia was in many ways a dry run for Carnegie Hall, Epstein's policy being to book his group into the most prestigious venues possible. The Olympia was the best music hall in France, where the first night guaranteed an audience in full evening dress, minks and diamonds. It was a beautiful, classic theatre with sumptuous furnishings. However, the dressing room was tiny and the Olympia was unused to Beatlemania: people with tickets had been prohibited from entering the theatre, whereas others found someone already in their seats. It was chaos. The theatre was ringed with armed police and beyond them a cordon of fans chanting "Beat-les, Beat-les, Beat-les!" As the group left the stage a few more punches were exchanged. Predictably, French chauvinism showed in the press reports the next day, though France Soir suggested that French pop idols must be jealous because never before had the French clapped along so loudly with the beat.

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