February 11, 2014

Today's The 50th Anniversary Of The Beatles First U.S. Concert At Washington Coliseum

While The Beatles' NYC appearance on THE ED SULLIVAN SHOW gets most of the attention for their American debut, the Fab Four's first live concert for a paying audience took place in Washington DC. Two days after being seen by nearly 75 million Americans, the group played for 8,000 screaming fans at the Washington Coliseum a few blocks from Union Station, where they arrived by train in a snowstorm.

Today's Washington Post has a fantastic oral history of that first Beatles show, with attendees like Al Gore (who grew up in DC) and Albert Maysles (who shot the concert) and Sir Paul reminiscing about it all. There are some great details, like the chat Ringo had with a child on the train and the teen screaming which had police officers putting bullets in their ears. You can also watch footage from that show on iTunes new Beatles channel, along with two of The Beatles SULLIVAN segments.  I watched these uncut broadcast segments after the CBS tribute on Sunday kept showing tantalizingly short clips. They are really remarkable...the screaming is annoying but also electric, especially during "I Wanna Hold Your Hand". At one point, Ed himself cannot quiet the audience down to speak in intro'ing the second segment.

Finally, a live celebration of the anniversary is happening tonight at the old Coliseum itself (which now goes by its original name U Line Arena). It's been brought back to life for a one night only restaging of that first show with a Beatles tribute band. They will play the exact same set list and the show will start, as it did then, at exactly 8:31pm.  And just like the original, it is also sold out.

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