From the Archives – The Day London Beatles Walkers Saw a Free Paul McCartney Concert!

People that came on my London Beatles tour on Thursday 7th June 2007 were in for a surprise – they got to see Paul McCartney play live – for nothing!!

Paul’s ‘secret gig’ at the Electric Ballroom, Camden Town, was only announced at about 3pm the previous day. When I read the report on the official Paul McCartney website my reaction turned from excitement to despair in a few seconds. They were giving out armbands for the concert at 12.30pm – when I would be in the middle of my Beatles tour!!! I wouldn’t be able to get to Camden until about 2pm. Would I miss out on seeing Paul McCartney because I was doing a Beatles tour! How ironic.

Due to the short notice there was no way I could get another guide to do the tour – and I thought that ‘taking a sickie’ to get tickets for Paul McCartney would have been a bit too obvious. I spent a sleepless night wondering how on earth I could be in two places at the same time.

I decided to go down to the Electric Ballroom early the next morning to see what the situation was. I arrived at about 8am and was amazed there were only 14 people in the queue! I was fully expecting there to be several hundred by then. When Paul did the signing for Ecce Cor Meum in December scores of people slept outside Virgin for the night. It seemed the late announcement of the concert has prevented many people from coming.

I asked the security guys when the bands were to be given out and he said between 12 and 12.30. I still had a problem. However, I stayed in the queue for a couple of hours and by 10am only another 6 people arrived. Then I had a brainwave. I was sure that everyone who arrived for the tour that day would like to see Paul live. Tottenham Court Road is only about 10 minutes on the underground from Camden. I could go down to the start point of the tour, bring them to Camden in good time for the handing out of bands at 12.30 and do the tour in the afternoon. Luckily London Walks agreed with my plan. My spirits were improving. Then just as I was about to leave Camden I got a call from Paulmcartney.com to say I had won tickets to the concert in their draw. Things were certainly looking up!!

About 25 people turned up for the tour and I told them the plans. Most were really excited but one or two had theatre tickets and couldn’t go to see Paul.

We got back to Camden at 11.30am and there were still only about 30 people in the queue. It seemed everyone on the tour would get in.

We did the tour in the afternoon and had some free time before the show. I recognised many old friends in queue, some I hadn’t seen for years.

The doors opened about 7pm and by then a fairly large queue had formed. However I heard later that all the fans who were outside managed to get in.

I was wondering whether there would be any merchandise available and was amazed to be given a FREE Memory Almost Full T Shirt as I walked into the ballroom.

The Electric is a large ballroom with a large downstairs area with a bar in the middle and also a small upstairs balcony. It holds around 1000 people. Even though it was standing only and I’m only 5 ft 5 inches tall I still I managed to get a good view of the stage.

Amongst the celebs present included Pierce Brosnan, Jeff Beck, Dave Gilmour, Kate Moss and McKenzie Crook.

Paul came on at about 8.40pm and launched into Drive My Car. Not a bad start! The crowd went wild. Paul was in great voice and great spirits. He seems to love playing these smaller gigs and throughout was interacting with the audience.  The whole band seemed to having a great time and the atmosphere was electric from the start.

The set list was as follows:

‘Drive My Car’
‘Only Mama Knows’
‘Dance Tonight’
‘C Moon’
‘The Long And Winding Road’
‘I’ll Follow The Sun’
‘Calico Skies’

‘That Was Me’
‘Blackbird’
‘Here Today’
‘Back In The USSR’
‘Nod Your Head’
‘House Of Wax’
‘I’ve Got A Feeling’
‘Matchbox’
‘Get Back’
‘Hey Jude’
‘Let It Be’
‘Lady Madonna’
‘I Saw Her Standing There’

The songs from the new album sounded really good – especially Only Mama Knows which was better live than on the CD. It deserves to be in any Macca set list for years to come. House of Wax and That Was Me were also really good.

The crowd was raucous from the start. Inevitably The Beatles songs got the most reaction but the new songs were greeted well too. Throughout the show Paul joked about the founder of Camden ‘Camp Den’ – who was very good with his hands’. Was he talking about Denny Laine??? He also made fun of someone shouting at him by replying ‘There’s always someone shouting something unintelligable’ and then did a neanderthal man impersonation!

By far the most emotional moment of the concert was when Paul sang ‘Here Today’ – and dedicated it to our ‘fallen heroes’ John, George and Linda. I think it’s the first time he’s included Linda in the dedication for this song and he was clearly very emotional when he sang it. He said at the end ‘That’s always a dangerous song to sing’.

Highlights for me were ‘Back In the USSR’  “I’ve Got a Feeling’ and storming version of Carl Perkins’ ‘Matchbox’. It was also great seeing him play Get Back and I’ve Got a Feeling just hours after I was on my tour outside 3 Savile Row.

Paul left the stage after singing  ‘Hey Jude’ but the crowd kept on singing it, and after a few minutes Paul and the band came back on and continued to play it.

After a wonderful encore of Beatles classics the concert was finally over. I suppose one surprise was that he didn’t sing Yesterday – barring the short Cavern Club gig I think it’s the first concert Paul’s done since 1973 when he hasn’t sung it. In all, the concert lasted about 1.5 hours. It was totally superb – especially as it didn’t cost a penny to get in!

Many people that had come on my tour came to thank me. I guess I made a few new friends :>)

Blogger Richard Porter Guides five Beatles walks a week for London Walks. Please go to http://www.beatlesinlondon.com  for more information.
PS – about a year after the gig, I received an email from one of the walkers who were at the gig that night and had a great time. Their child was born 9 months later :>)

New Book on the Making of John Lennon’s album ‘Imagine’ to be Released

Yoko Ono will share the story of the making of John Lennon’s album “Imagine” in a “landmark publication” with Thames & Hudson.

The book is due for release in October 2018 and will contain “unseen photographs, artefacts and new interviews” with the people who were there when the album was conceived and recorded.

This year Ono belatedly received an official co-credit on the album’s title track, in accordance with Lennon’s wishes.

Ono said: “A lot has been written about the creation of the song, the album and the film of ‘Imagine’, mainly by people who weren’t there, so I’m very pleased and grateful that now, for the first time, so many of the participants have kindly given their time to ‘gimme some truth’ in their own words and pictures.”

 

New Play About John Lennon to Open in Liverpool

Today (Monday, 9 October) marks what would have been the 77th birthday of the legendary singer, songwriter, musician, peace campaigner and BeatleJohn Winston Lennon.

And in just over six months time, new comedy play Lennon’s Banjo will premiere at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre – telling the fascinating and touching story behind the beginning of the singer’s musical journey, influenced by his mother Julia.

Produced by Pulse Records Ltd in association with Bill Elms, Lennon’s Banjo will open at Liverpool’s Epstein Theatre on Tuesday 24 April 2018 for a two-week run, continuing through until Saturday 5 May.

On 9 October 1957, a young John Lennon would have been celebrating his 17th birthday. It was the last birthday he would spend with his mother, Julia, who was killed the following Spring in a road traffic accident.

It was well documented that Lennon was estranged from his parents and brought up by his Aunt Mimi. He said in many of his interviews: “I lost my mother twice. Once when I was five-years-old when she left me with my Aunt Mimi, and again at 17 when she was run over by a drunken off-duty police officer.”

It was Julia Lennon who introduced John to the world of pop music, teaching him to play rock and roll on a banjo, given to her by John’s grandfather. Lennon often recounted how he would sneak off to visit his mum who lived only a few miles away. There, he would learn to play songs like ‘That’ll Be The Day’. He has been quoted as saying: “Mum would sit there with endless patience until I managed to work out all the chords.”

Mysteriously, the banjo went missing shortly after Julia Lennon’s death and no-one has set eyes on it since. One thing is certain though, if it did resurface it is estimated to be worth in the region of five million pounds.

Stage play Lennon’s Banjo is written by Rob Fennah, who will also co-produce the show. No stranger to theatre, Fennah wrote the stage play adaptation of Helen Forrester’s ‘Twopence to Cross the Mersey’.

 The play is based on the 2012 novel ‘Julia’s Banjo’ by Rob Fennah and Helen A Jones.

 Lennon’s Banjo is directed by Mark Heller and a full all-star cast will be announced soon.

Rob Fennah commented:The show tells the story of a Beatles tour guide who uncovers a clue to the whereabouts of Lennon’s missing banjo. It’s like The Beatles meets the Da Vinci Code. As a big Beatles fan, I have matched the story to historical reality including dates, places and events.

 “Next year marks the 60th anniversary of Julia’s tragic death. John idolised his mother. Julia’s banjo played a vital part in hers and John’s lives; nurturing and developing John’s musical talent; and of course, the history of popular music. Without the banjo, The Beatles would never have happened – that’s quite monumental when you think of the banjo in that context.

 “I want fellow Beatles fans to enjoy the romp through Beatledom in search of the holy grail of pop music and come out of the theatre believing, as I do, that the banjo is still out there somewhere just waiting to be found.”

 The creative team behind the show are delighted to announce the Fab Four Production Partners on-board are The Cavern, The Beatles Story, Hard Days Night Hotel, and The Beatles Shop.

 So where do the facts end and the fiction begin? Everything will be revealed in this fast paced, comic caper, multi-media play.

 Missing for 60 years… The holy grail of pop is now worth millions to whoever finds it!

Watch the Promo Video here  https://youtu.be/ddpVnRStAmo   

 For more info visit www.lennonsbanjo.com

FULL TOUR LISTING

LENNON’S BANJO

Epstein Theatre
Tue 24 April – Sat 5 May 2018

HOW TO BOOK

 Tickets are on sale now. 

EPSTEIN THEATRE

ONLINE: www.epsteinliverpool.co.uk CALL: 0844 888 4411

IN PERSON: Hanover Street, Liverpool, L1 3DZ |Mon-Thu 2pm-6pm, Fri & Sat 12pm-6pm

TICKETQUARTER
ONLINE:
www.ticketquarter.co.uk CALL: 0844 8000 410

IN PERSON: Echo Arena Box Office, Kings Dock, Liverpool

 

Robert Whitaker Website Include lots of Beatles Photos

The website for the late photographer, Robert Whitaker, has just been updated, with lots of Beatles photos, including many rarely seen. Robert notoriously took the photo used on the Yesterday and Today LP in America, which shows the Beatles in white coats, draped with dismembered dolls and raw meat – the ‘butcher cover’. However, he took photos of the Beatles on many other occasions too, and many of these are included here. Go to https://www.robertwhitakerphotography.com/

Yoko to Illuminate the Imagine Peace Tower in Iceland

Yoko will be paying her annual visit to Iceland this October, to signal the illumination of Imagine Peace Tower in memory of John Lennon on Monday 9th October – his birthday. The illumination will be at 9 pm.

Located on the Icelandic island of Videy, Imagine Peace Tower is an outdoor work of art conceived by Yoko. It was dedicated to John by Yoko at its unveiling on October 9th 2007, John Lennon’s 67th birthday. Each year since then Yoko has travelled to Iceland to illuminate the vast tower of light – and it remains lit from 9th October until the day of Lennon’s death, December 8th.

For more on this story click here

Laurence Juber to Play in London Next Week

Laurence Juber is playing 2 concerts at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Dean Street, London next week. Laurence was of course in the last line-up of Wings.

Juber, known to his fans as LJ, has released 25 solo albums which spotlight his unique touch and tone on acoustic guitar. The latest, LJ Can’t Stop Playing The Beatles! is the third in his series of arrangements by the Fab Four.

His LJ Plays The Beatles was voted one of Acoustic Guitar Magazine’s all-time Top Ten albums. His solo arrangement of The Pink Panther Theme earned him a second Grammy, while his arrangement of Stand By Me was heard nationally in a Diamonds Are Forever commercial. Juber’s DVD-Audio project Guitar Noir (AIX Records) won a CES Demmy award for best audio.

His ‘photo memoir’ Guitar With Wings was recently published by Dalton Watson Fine Books.

The concerts are on October 11th and 12th. October 11th will be mainly of Beatles songs. N

By the way, Pizza Express is literally around the corner from MPL, Paul McCartney’s offices…

For more info and tickets, see http://www.jbgbevents.com/laurence-juber-music-of-the-beatles.html

Paul McCartney in Soho Today

Thanks to my friend Gillian Byant, who told me that Paul McCartney was seen at the Soho Hotel in London today. He apparently posed for pictures and signed autographs (pity I wasn’t there!). The hotel is metres away from Paul’s offices in Soho Square. We have no info on what he was doing there though.

Paul is making a brief visit to London in between his concerts in the USA, and forthcoming concerts in South America.