The Last Beatles Concert, 50 Years Later

You know you should be glad the Fab Four left the stage for the studio.

Nor did fans get that much for their money. Known for epic all-night shows in their Hamburg salad days, the Beatles on tour had become 30-minute men. (Yes, there were warm-up acts, but other than the Ronettes, they were decidedly third-rate. Bobby Hebb, anybody?) The Beatles didn’t even stretch out their last official show, playing just 11 songs in Candlestick Park. Compare that with the septuagenarian Paul McCartney who, this summer, has regularly been performing shows that last nearly three hours.

No wonder the Beatles were done with touring. It had to be lame knocking out the same-old same-old on stage after just having spent months recording the album Revolver. How can you bring the same enthusiasm to covering “Long Tall Sally” (which the Beatles used to close their Candlestick concert) for the umpteenth time when you’ve just had the experience of creating something as extraordinary and otherworldly as “Tomorrow Never Knows” (the proto-psychedelic track that closes Revolver)?

That said, there are new efforts to make the most of the Beatles, Live. Producer George Martin’s son Giles has a new mix of recordings made of the band at the Hollywood Bowl in 1964 and 1965. And director Ron Howard is coming out with a new documentary in September, Eight Days a Week, that features newly discovered footage of the Beatles on tour and in concert.

Still, in the studio the Beatles were the best band rock ‘n’ roll had ever known. Live, they were a muddy rumble of guitars and drums heard passingly under the jet-engine roar of screaming girls. Giving up the latter was a sound choice.



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