Reflections on The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – the Touring Years

I have been lucky enough to see the film 3 times at the cinema, including the Gala Premiere, along with Paul, Ringo, Yoko, Olivia and many others.

I first saw the film at Picturehouse Central in London, which is right next to the London Pavilion, where A Hard Day’s Night, Help! Yellow Submarine and Let it Be all had their London premieres, so a very suitable location. It was a very big screen and great sound.

There was quite a bit of footage I had never seen before – the best being a press conference where George is seen using John’s hair as an ashtray while smoking a cigarette! There were also snatches of fan shot ‘home movies’ of gigs, including brief footage from Hammersmith Odeon in 1965.
Another great moment was when Paul talked about Ringo playing with the Beatles for the first time, and the others just looking at each other and thinking ‘Wow – this really works’! He got really emotional when he said this too.
As well as newly filmed interviews with Paul and Ringo, there is also footage of interviews with George and John, so like the Anthology, we get the views of all four.

I enjoyed the film. Well, watching the fabs for 2 hours can’t be anything but! However, I thought it could have been better. I was rather surprised at the poor quality of some of the film footage, and I didn’t like that some of it had been colourised. In my opinion, if something was shot in black and white, that’s how it should stay, especially as the colourisation looked very artificial at times.
I didn’t really learn that much that I didn’t know before, but as it says in the production notes “first and foremost, it is a film for those who were “not there”, especially the millennials.”

I also thought it was certainly made for an American audience, who believe the Beatles first ever performance was the Ed Sullivan Show. Well, actually they’d done thousands of gigs before this, and I thought this part of the Beatles career was covered much too quickly. I also noticed that the likes of Bill Harry, Sam Leach, Tony Bramwell Freda Kelly, and Allan Williams get credit for their assistance in the film, but are not seen in it. Hopefully, their interviews will be included as extras on the DVD

For me the best bits of he film was the footage from ‘Beatles Come to Town’ in Manchester in 1963, Shea Stadium 1965 and ‘Don’t Let me Down and ‘I’ve Got a Feeling’ from the Apple Rooftop in 1969. Of course, one could say that the rooftop concert shouldn’t have been included, as it wasn’t from the ‘touring years’ – but the sound and picture quality were amazing, so I will let them off! Don’t Let Me Down seemed to be the same footage as seen on the Beatles One DVD, but I’ve Got a Feeling had lots of different camera angles not seen before. (Note to Apple – your next Film/DVD release must be Let it Be!!)

The Beatles The Eight Day’s a Week, the touring years is a great way to introduce the Beatles to new fans. I would certainly recommend all fans to see it, but if you are a big fan like me, don’t expect to learn too much :>)

Footnote – don’t leave the cinema before the end of the credits, because over them we are treated to sections of the Beatles 1963 Christmas message! (Another ‘potential’ release, please, Apple!)
Also it was a very nice touch that the film was dedicated to the memory of Sir George Martin, and also to Neil Aspinall, Mal Evans and Brian Epstein.

Second Viewing

I saw Eight Day’s A Week for the second time at another preview screening at the Dolby Cinema in Soho Square, which is 3 doors away from MPL (Paul McCartney’s HQ) I was hoping Paul might turn up to watch it – but didn’t.

I suppose I enjoyed the film more this time than on the first viewing. I knew what to expect, and just enjoyed the great footage. I could see that director Ron Howard was trying to show how the Beatles were in the eye of a hurricane in the crazy touring days, and on this level, the film worked well.

The Premiere

I wasn’t expecting to attend the premiere, as Apple said it was full up. However, I decided I would go along anyway to soak up the atmosphere. That lunchtime though, I had a text from David Stark to say he had a spare ticket, and would I like to go. Talk about a no-brainer question.

Waiting for the show to begin
Waiting for the show to begin

I went down to Leicester Square about 3 hours before the premiere started, to soak up the atmosphere and to meet many old friends. When I arrived, the premiere workers were taking the covers off the blue carpet (not red!) and giving it a good clean with hoovers!

One of the nicest things about being there was to meet Gary and Vanda Evans. Gary is the son of Mal, of course the Beatles roadie. We had a lovely chat and I heard some great stories. Gary and Vanda are a lovely couple too, and I’m very pleased they saw the premiere. I also met up with Freda Kelly, who ran the Beatles Fan Club in Liverpool

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Me with Gary Evans
Me with Gary Evans

We went into the cinema quite early, and watched Paul and Ringo arrive on the big screen. Paul wore the same jacket (designed by Dougie Millings) that he wore to the premiere of A Hard Day’s Night in 1964!  Before it began, Paul, Ringo and Ron Howard gave short speeches about the film.

Paul and Ringo arriving at the premiere
Paul and Ringo arriving at the premiere

There was great excitement in the cinema, with lots of reaction to parts of the film, and a round of applause at the end. Paul, Ringo and many of the other celebrities left just before the end of ‘Eight Day’s a Week, which might be why the planned showing of The Beatles Live at Shea Stadium didn’t happen.

The DVD of Eight Days A Week is to be released in the UK on November 21st (my birthday!). The deluxe version will include a booklet and about 90 minutes of bonus material. It’s good that many of the interviews with Liverpool people, like Freda Kelly, and Alan Williams.  The DVD can be pre-ordered at https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beatles-Eight-Touring-Years-Deluxe/dp/B01LTHLQ0K/ref=sr_1_1ie=UTF8&qid=1474488772&sr=81&keywords=beatles+eight+days+a+week+dvd

Richard Porter is a professional Beatles tour guide in London and former editor of the London Beatles Fan Club magazine. For more info on his tours, see www.beatlesinlondon.com

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