Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The First concert

I love reading the stories of fans who attended a Beatles concert.   Everyone's story is just so interesting and their memories are just so fascinating.   It really adds to the history of the Beatles.  That is why I am encouraging any of you who attended a Beatles concert to write down your memories.  If you would like to share them with this blog, I would be super excited!  But if is just an important historical memory to have documented.   

Here is a story of someone who saw the Beatles in 1963.   I love it!   Sadly out of the thousands of concert photos I have, the folder for "October 5, 1963" is empty!  I do not have any photos from this concert!  So I will have to post photos from a different concert from the tour.

This story was written by Moira Warren and is from the January 1977 issue of "With a little help from my friends."

That very first Beatle concert
By Moira Warren (Scotland)

Saturday 5th October 1963 – what a magical date.  That was the day I first saw THEM.  The Beatles—in person on stage at the Glasgow concert Hall!  It was the opening night of a Scottish tour (a very short 3 day tour which also included Kirkcaldy and Dundee) but it all really started for me a few weeks before “B day” when my friend, June arrived on y doorstep, all breathless from running, waving those 2 precious little blue bits of paper and asked would I like to go see the Beatles with her!  (would I?) I made a sort of choking, gasping sound in answer as I snatched one of the tickets and kissed it so she guessed I did want to see the Beatles!

Those 2 weeks or so literally dragged until October 5th.  At work, I was often found just sitting in a daze thinking about actually seeing the Beatles!  Their records “She loves you” was #1 and although that was their 3rd #1 in a row that year, most people were just beginning to notice this fairly new group from Liverpool but I’d noticed them months before.  I’d fallen in love with the Beatle sound and Paul in particular at the beginning of ’63.  After seeing them on TV and hearing them interviewed on radio, I was just dying to actually see them in the flesh.

At long last, October 5th came.   I got up at the crack of dawn but couldn’t eat a thing.  I don’t know now what I wore but I’d guess it was a black polo necked jumper and either skirt or trousers.  I think it was trousers.  I also know for sure I had at least a dozen Beatles badges on that regulation black polo!  (All Beatle fans wore black polo’s!)  I think you call them turtlenecks in America.  I hung around the clock all morning looking at it every two minutes, just waiting or June to call round se we could set off. It was pretty cold that day but I can’t say I felt it as we left at about 2:30pm to catch a bus into town.  Our show (the second) didn’t start until 8:30pm so we had hours to wait.  We decided to just walk around the town looking for anyone remotely “Beatle-like” (in those days they were easy to spot because not many had long hair yet).  After the shows we found out the boys had been staying at the Central Hotel but although we walked past there at least twice, we hadn’t seen a thing!
There wasn’t the obvious Beatlemania that Glasgow was soon to see 6 months later in April 1964 when the Beatles next visited, but the excitement amongst the fans was intense to say the least.

Eventually we made our way back to the concert halls to queue for the 2nd show.  Hundreds of girls were already waiting outside so after all the waiting, this was it!

Here we were standing outside the hall and THEY were inside! We heard a fresh wave of screams great what must have been the last number of the 1st show.  It was, and soon tearful, sobbing girls stumbled out to the normally busy, but usually much quieter Argyle Street.  Passersby over the age of 20 stared in amazement, they didn’t know The Beatles were the cause of all the excitement!  John, George, Paul and Ringo were not to become household words for another 6 weeks or so – then the whole of Britain (and soon the world) would know exactly who those four cheeky looking kids with the stone-age hairstyles were.

We privileged few (for the hall only held 1,500) knew already that these four boys were special.
We noticed extra policemen arrive just then and soon whispers began about a bomb being in the building!  There mustn’t be, I prayed.  Not with the Beatles inside—there can’t be!  Of course after a ten minute search it turned out to be a hoax – but what an anxious ten minutes!  We should have known it was a hoax after all, how could a poor little bomb be heard above “Twist and Shout?”

One of our local newspapers, the “Evening Citizen” had a special front page on the Beatles that night, and I’ve never seen papers sell so fast!  Our papers were to have “Beatle” specials every few months until about ’66 after that – but in October ’63 we just didn’t realize how things were to explode for the Beatles.  June and I dutifully handed over our 3d for our copy of “The Citizen” and started talking to a very agitated girl there on her own.  We’d noticed her before and she seemed even more excited than the others, although by this time every girl (including me) was shaking like a leaf!  She said “Hello.  I’m Irene, George’s my favorite and I’m going to meet them after the show!”  To that, I replied, “Hello.  I’m Moira.  Paul’s my favorite, and pull the other one, it’s got bells on.”  Of course we didn’t believe her but Irene kept bouncing up and down insisting she was going to meet him (George that is).  She was waving a newspaper which confirmed her story about 6 lucky competition winners meeting the Beatles after the show.  We did eventually write to her, but at that moment as we were slowly being allowed into the hall that was the last thing on our minds.  We had but 4 thoughts!
In the foyer we paid 2/- for a programme, gasping at the four familiar faces on the cover as we did so I said, “Look at Paul!” and June replied, “ohhh, look at John!”  Our conversations usually sounded a bit like that.  We hurried to row K14 and I didn’t know at the time but I was right on john’s side.  The tickets cost 17/6d but worth it to get such good seats (13 was all I was earning at the time so 17/6d seemed a lot then).   At last the show started but we had to sit for what seemed like ages before they were due on.  We sat shuffling our feet, biting our nails and politely clapping a whole host of acts like the “the Carnavelles,”  “Malcolm Clarke and the Cresters,” “Johnny Hudson and the Teenbeats,”  “Housten Wells and the Marksmen,” “the Overlanders,” and “Andy Ross and his Show Band” (yes really).  Looking back, I can’t remember what any of them looked like.  Needless to say, none of them have been heard of from that day to this!  What we Beatle fans have to suffer!  Then as an army of assorted policemen, ambulancemen and Stewards (about 50) positioned themselves around the front of the stage, my stomach turned a dozen summersaults and the curtains opened and the loudest shriek that Glasgow had ever heard ripped its way around the Hall and bounced from wall to wall!  I’d never heard anything like it because this was the first concert I’d ever been to in my life.  I’ll never forget it as long as I live. 

There they were at last!  John, George and Paul beaming wilding and looking so innocent.  I can’t really remember if Ringo, sitting high up and poised on his dreams was smiling too—somehow don’t think so. 

George seemed terrified of the noise as he gingerly stepped forward, took held of the mike with his left hand and said something that was completely inaudible before starting to sing.  They chose “Roll over Beethoven” to open the show but they alone knew that at the time!  (I found out the next day after reading the reviews).  I couldn’t hear a thing except the screams and the shouts of “John, Paul, George and Ringo!”

Now I knew why George looked so scared, before he’d finished singing, he was knee deep in Jelly Babies!  And he kept flinching as one or more sailed past his head.  He seemed glad to get back in front of Ringo’s drum and leave Paul and John in the line of fire (serves him right for saying he liked Jelly Babies!).  As Paul stepped forward I could see him clearer.  We were directly in front of John so I had to stand sideways to see Paul best.  I’m really glad John’s shortsighted and couldn’t’ see into the audience!  Paul looked even more angelic in person as he introduced the next song (whatever that was).  He looked like a beautiful choir boy in his lovely collarless suit.  They were a grey/blue colour and Paul had a knife-edge crease in his trousers.  I remember that!  His black Cuban-heeled boots made him look much taller than I’d imagined he’d be.  My eyes simply adored him.  I just knew Paul McCartney was going to stay someone very special in my life.  The 30 or 40 minutes they were on stage flew like 30 seconds.  I don’t remember the order of the songs or even all of them.  But I do remember Ringo, in a huge spotlight, belting out “Boys” for all his worth.  Paul screamed the backing vocals to that as if in an effort to drown poor Ringo out.  I think George was at the mic too but I can’t honestly remember.  Anyway, Ringo retaliated by punishing those drums.  I thought any minute his foot would go through the floor!

I remember Paul singing “A taste of honey”, “I’ll get you,” then “She loves you” next with Paul and George trying to outdo each other, you know, at the “Oooo” bits to see who could shake his furry head the wildest!  I’ll never forget the way they kept looking at each other and laughing.  They must have known the effect they were having on us poor girls.  “Please please me,”  “From me to you,”  “I saw her standing there”, “Do you want to know a secret” and then all too soon John was asking us to clap and hands and stamp our feet for “Twist and Shout” there’ll never be a song to equal that for a closing a show!  He literally brought the house down that night because if we’d only have looked up, the entire balcony was jumping up and down in time to the music!  I do remember looking up once or twice – so I guess there was something going on.  John screamed “Twist and Shout” like his life depended on it!  He sung it with such force that even I had to turn my head around.  After that, I kept one eye on John and the other on Paul and George.

In the near riot that had developed, 100 seats collapsed and a girl tensed up with emotion punched clear though a plasterboard wall!  Anyway the following day’s newspapers reported that riot long with the story of the balcony swaying dangerously and plaster etc., falling down below.  So the result of all that meant a complete ban on any more concerts in that particular hall. 

As the last chord of “Twist and Shout” faded and died, the curtains closed and they were gone.  I flopped to my seat exhausted then we picked up our programmes and other souvenirs, just looking at one another.  We didn’t need to speak; we both felt exactly the same.  No words are quite adequate when you’ve just seen them.  We slowly made our way out amidst an eerie silence, broken only by sobs as I remember.  When I at last spoke, on our way home, I found my voice a hoarse whisper (I stayed like that for the next week too).  I could have sworn it’d been everyone else screaming!  I don’t really remember how or when we eventually got home.  It was late anyway.  I suppose it’s possible we could’ve walked the 7 miles.  I just don’t remember.

What I will always remember was the first time I ever saw John, Paul, George and Ringo.  I did see the Beatles in ’64 and ’65 too.  But that very first concert will always hold extra special memories.  What I’d give to go back to 1963 for just one hour!

1 comment:

  1. Exclamation Mike!May 15, 2014 at 6:41 PM

    A lot of great 1963 material on MTBFR today!!! What a beautiful remembrance, yet again, thank you for typing this out for all of us! You cannot help but smile - and feel completely kindred, regardless of the sex of the person writing the story - when you read these accounts!

    The girl who put her fist through the wall cracked me up!

    Only 1,500 in that theatre!