The Beatles are coming to Birmingham this Thursday, on film at least.
Birmingham’s Beatles fans are being offered a treat from 6pm this Thursday evening (September 15th) when a newly restored and remastered version of the band’s historic performance at New York’s Shea Stadium premieres at twenty West Midlands cinemas as the culmination of an evening celebrating the Beatles as a live group.
On Sunday, August 15th 1965 the Beatles performed the world’s first ever large-scale stadium gig in front of a crowd of 55,600 – then a world record for a popular music concert – on what was the opening night of their second North American tour. The show was filmed in colour by Sullivan Productions (owned by US television presenter Ed Sullivan, who also introduced the band on stage that evening) using 14 cameras for a 50-minute television documentary which was shown in the United States in January 1967 (and twice in black and white on the BBC in 1966).
The documentary has never received an official release but footage of the concert is in any case interspersed with interviews and film of the group back stage. The band returned to Shea Stadium on their August 1966 US tour, but that show was not officially recorded or filmed. Thursday’s screening of the Shea gig concentrates solely on the Beatles performance itself and last around 30 minutes.
The restoration and remastering has been overseen by Giles Martin, son of Beatles producer George Martin, who passed away earlier this year. Early reviews of the film have been extremely positive and so the chance to watch the concert on a large screen in 4k through the high quality sound systems found in most modern cinemas is one not to be missed.
The evening begins with around 45 minutes of live streaming from the world premier at the Odeon in London’s Leicester Square of the Ron Howard-directed documentary The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years, expected to be attended by Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison. Following this, the documentary itself (lasting 2hrs 17mins) will be screened.
Howard’s film, officially produced and released through the Beatles’ own company Apple Corps Ltd, covers the period from 1962-1966 and features previously unreleased footage of the group, as well as interviews with all four band members and many of those who comprised their inner circle. The documentary will be streamed on Hulu in the US from this Saturday and will be released (with additional content) in November. There are currently no plans to release the Shea Stadium concert and it will not be incorporated in the DVD/Blu Ray release of the Ron Howard film.
All of this ties in with the release on CD and digital download last Friday of The Beatles: Live At The Hollywood Bowl. First issued in 1977 but unavailable for decades, as with the Shea performance, the Hollywood Bowl album has been remastered by Giles Martin and includes four songs not included in the original release, though somewhat mysteriously these have been added on to the end of the concert rather being placed in the order that they would have been in live performance. A 180-gram vinyl version of the album will be released on November 18th.
For details of screenings of The Beatles Shea Stadium gig and Eight Days A Week documentary, go to www.thebeatles.com and click on Book Tickets.