31.12.13

BEATLES, Christmas '63


My dad took me to see The Beatles at the Gaumont Theatre in Bradford on December 21, 1963. He liked his pop music and seemed to like The Beatles, though not with the same fervour as myself. I think he was just curious to see what all the fuss was about, and in 1963 in England you had to be deaf, dumb and blind not to notice the fuss that surrounded The Beatles.
     It was the height of Beatlemania. There weren’t many boys in the audience, only teenage girls and the sense of anticipation was ridiculous. All around me girls were quivering with excitement, clutching their heads, whimpering like puppies. Dad and I sat through the support acts, all six of them, and compere Rolf Harris. Unlike everybody else on the bill The Beatles used their own drums and amplifiers which had to be set up behind the curtains, and during the delay Harris was completely drowned out by the screaming. Drawing sketches of the four Beatles’ faces on his charcoal pad simply encouraged more and more screaming.
     Then he introduced them, the curtains parted and there they were, John, Paul, George & Ringo, the princes of pop in their shiny suits and Cuban-heeled boots, squinting beneath their fringes, jiggling their guitars and trying to sing above the incredible din. Absolute pandemonium! They were only on for about 25 minutes and they were completely drowned out by relentless screaming which didn’t let up for a second. I don’t think I heard a word they sang or played, even though I was quite near the front, on Paul's side, but it was the most exciting thing I'd ever seen in my life, an unbelievable experience. John was pretty much motionless, leaning into his mike, his Rickenbacker high up on his chest, but Paul and George moved around a bit, approaching their microphone together to sing while Paul shook his guitar neck, which simply added to the turmoil. All hell broke loose when Ringo sang, and stewards had to hold back girls who rushed out of their seats to the front. We stood for the whole show. I was spellbound, electrified.
     I didn’t take notes (that would come later) but subsequent research has revealed they played ‘Roll Over Beethoven’, ‘All My Loving’, ‘This Boy’, ‘I Wanna Be Your Man’, ‘She Loves You’, ‘Till There Was You’, ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’, ‘Money (That’s What I Want)’ and ended, as usual, with ‘Twist And Shout’ sung by John. Then the curtains closed and no doubt they were out of that theatre and into the cold December night in the blink of an eye.
     I never mentioned this to John and Paul when I interviewed them in the ‘70s. They’d moved on and so had I, so it didn’t seem appropriate somehow – but almost 50 years later I remember it as if it was yesterday, just the best Christmas treat ever. 

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