Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years – The Beatles – Film
I came out of the cinema having watched `Eight days a week – The Touring Years` with a fresh insight into the growing sense of dissatisfaction, weariness and boredom the Beatles must have reached by the time they played their famous 1965 Shea Stadium concert in New York.
The scenes of fan induced hysteria highlighted that by the 1965 `live show`, in which the band struggled to hear their themselves on stage, appears to have been the catalyst which persuaded the band that continual touring was no longer pleasurable for them.
After being unceremoniously bundled into a `meat wagon after the concert the band had decided that they needed to retreat to the studio and do want they did best and write songs and record away from the bedlam their live gigs had become.
“By the end it became quite complicated, but at the beginning, things were really simple,” states McCartney summing up the bands feelings perfectly.
Since the band broke up in 1970, the year I left school, much has been written and spoken about The Beatles but I never tire of wanting more, after all much of their music was the backdrop to my life. I still found it exciting to watch the brightly accumulated footage of pictures, interviews and familiar music as if it were yesterday! Perhaps not much new for die hard Beatle fans but this film made me smile as I enjoyed a two hours plus nostalgia trip.
After reading endless words and books on the subject of The Beatles and having watched hours of film coverage of interviews and analysis covering every aspect of the band some might raise the question `Why more film of The Beatles`? Is there anything we don’t already know?
I found it warming to hear Paul, Ringo describing events over fifty years ago and John and George on old film recalling their now familiar story. It reminded me of how the Beatles basically invented the rock concert tour that we see today and have continued to inspire pretty much every band since 1965 from ELO, Bad Company to Oasis.
There were some scenes I had not seen before. It was amusing to see Ringo struggling to manually turn his drum podium around at a concert was about to begin and the signs at Shea Stadium, `For safety sake please remain in your seats`, which many of the 56,600 screaming teenagers preferred to ignore. Watching spectators running across the field towards the stage being chased by police officers was amusing and the faces and actions of the young female fans almost unbelievable.
It was comical to watch the bands sharp, clever and humorous remarks when being interviewed by stuffy, predictable media journalists asking boring, tedious questions. John even introduced himself to one as Eric before correcting the ill-informed hack.
The film begins at the start of the band’s U.S. tour of discovery in 1965 with “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and concludes with the release of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” in 1967 but I was still surprised that no mention was given to former band members Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe — sacked and died 1962. How can you make a film about the `touring years` of The Beatles without even mentioning the names of Pete Best and Stuart Sutcliffe? I would liked to have seen a lot more archive film of the lads in Liverpool and Hamburg or news reel footage.
The Ed Sullivan Show`s, the ear-splitting screams of their mostly female concert audiences, the hullaballoo sparked by Lennon’s off the wall “more popular than Jesus” remark is shown alongside plenty of other archive material, some of which is new collected from fans worldwide, but this is not a `warts and all` film. The death of Manager Brian Epstein from an accidental overdose in 1967 aged just 32 a few months after the films conclusion is not mentioned despite many references to the importance of his influence on the band in their early years. I would have thought a passing reference to his death would have been appropriate at that point in the film.
The film is clearly aimed at those `sixty somethings` who were caught up in the `Beatlemania` during the sixties or a few years afterwards. This is reflected somewhat by the strange eclectic mix of `Talking Heads` including Elvis Costello, Whoopi Goldberg, Sigourney Weaver and even more strangely Eddie Izzard. I would like to have heard comments from Noel Gallagher or even one of McCartneys more recent collaborators Jay Z.
Having been produced by film maker Ron Howard `Eight days a week` was always going to have an American bias in its presentation but for a Beatles fan, `The Touring Years` is a must view.
The Shea Stadium concert was originally filmed using fourteen 35mm cameras and although you may have been able to watch the Shea Stadium concert on YouTube for some years this fully restored and remastered version is terrific, it was well worth waiting for.
The Beatles were the real deal and although for `hard core` Beatles fans this film may not have enough new material for them to pour over and analyse I really enjoyed the film.
After all it`s about the music at the end of the day!
For more insight into the lives of The Beatles visit The Casbah and the Magical Mystery Tour. You can also read my blogs about my visit to The Casbah Coffee Club and the Magical Mystery Tour. Us the search above.
The Travel Locker
Eight days a week – The Touring Years
Director Ron Howard examines the early years of the Beatles from their club dates in Liverpool, England to their concert tours in Europe and the rest of the world.
Genre: Documentary, Music
Cast members: Paul McCartney, John Lennon, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
Running time: 120 minutes
Director: Ron Howard
Editor: Paul Crowder