Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Eight Days a Week

Ron Howard's documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years has bafflingly had a very limited cinema release but it's definitely worth seeking out if you can find anywhere playing it.

Choosing to just focus on the years 1962 to 1966 it ends as the band start recording Sgt. Pepper and uses their only post '66 live performance, when they played on the roof of the Apple Corps building on Saville Row, as a coda over the end credits. So it skips out a lot of the darker elements of their story, all the acrimony and in-fighting that clouded the making of their final albums and bitter break up, leaving us with the exhilarating rollercoaster ride of their meteoric rise to fame and exhausting five years of nonstop touring, recording, interviews and TV show appearances.

All cinema screenings of the film are followed by a full 30 minutes of restored footage from their historic 1965 Shea Stadium concert which sounds amazing and, as the film explains, much better than it would have sounded if you were in the audience what with all the screaming and the sound being pumped through the stadium's tinny public address system!

The fact that the band couldn't hear themselves or each other highlights how tight they were, always in time, always in tune. Paul mentions at one point the fact that he was left handed and John right handed meant that when they were writing songs together in cramped hotel rooms they could sit next to each other and be able to easily see what the other was playing, their guitars mirroring each other. It struck me watching the Shea Stadium footage that this was also key to their stage dynamics allowing Paul to share mikes with either George or John, their heads so close together when they sang it couldn't help but bring the band together as a unit and allow them to carry over some of the intimacy of their nights at The Cavern Club in Liverpool even when they were playing to a 50,000 plus crowd in a US sports stadium.

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