The Beatles in Glasgow
21 October 1964
By Moira Warren –Scotland
The closest I ever got to the Beatles in concert was on Wednesday 21st October 1964. My sister, Marion and I had been unlucky six months earlier. The last time the Beatles had been to Glasgow, so we’d been doubly determined to get tickets this time. They were appearing at the Odeon Theatre, and like the April concerts booking was strictly post only. Glasgow had been quick to clamp down on queuing for tickets at the beginning of the year when the “powers that be” had been disturbed at the reports they’d heard from other cities of massive lines of fans quite willing to camp out for weeks to secure tickets. Anyway, last time we’d waited till the Odeon started accepting bookings but there were so many applications we had no luck. I think I cried for a week! Nothing kept us from holding a vigil outside the Odeon for about 8 hours, though on the actual day. I did get a 2 second glimpse of Paul at a window high up above us which more than made up for the way the Mounted Police kept herding us around that place.
For the two concerts that night in October we’d made sure we’d get tickets by sending the applications the minute Glasgow was rumoured to be included in the 1964 tour. We had nothing to lose and it paid off beautifully. Marion and I sent for tickets separately, each applying for one of the shows, and we were lucky enough to get to see BOTH shows!
Details of that day are very hazy but I can remember taking the bus into town and the total chaos in the city centre as the fans gathered in the vicinity of the Odeon. There was a lot of trouble between police and ticketless fans later, but we were safely inside by then. Outside there was some violence, as the mounted police started charging into the crowds in an effort to move the fans on. In retaliation some idiots turned a car over and tried to set it on fire, so that meant the fire brigade on the scene as well! There were quite a few arrests which spoilt things the following year because in 1965 the police overreacted and outnumbered the fans which completely dampened the atmosphere outside. The rest of the show was okay, I suppose with Mary Wells and a young Liverpudlian, Tommy Quickly. I liked him a lot but somehow he was one of the few Brian’s “Empire” who didn’t have any real success.
Other acts on the bill were the Rustiks, Michael Haslam, Sounds Incorporated and the Remo Four. Much as I would enjoy the supporting acts on any other occasion no one could take my mind off the fact that it was the Beatles show! I don’t remember really what all the other singers sung except Mary Wells doing “My Guy.” That’s always been one of my favourites and I secretly dedicated it to Paul. Tommy was on directly before the Beatles and his last song was “The Wild Side of Life.” It’s funny but even all these years later to hear that particular song always brings back the thrill of NOT Tommy Quickly, but how I felt when they appeared!
For the first show we had fantastic seats in the 6th row, directly in front of Paul, and it was almost too much to take being so close to all four of them! They were all beaming wildly and waving acknowledgment which only sent the screams soaring to about the threshold of pain.
It was so noisy my head hurt but I quickly got used to it. They had on dark suits, white shirts, dark knitted ties and those lovely zippered “Beatle” boots. I’m pretty sure the first number was “A Hard Day’s Night” but as to the order of the others I’m very confused and I must confess I don’t actually remember all of them either! I make no apologies for that fact because within minutes I was “drunk” on just watching Paul up close, and I’m sure you can understand that my mind just wasn’t taking much in, apart from him. He could have been singing in Chinese for I cared! I do remember though “Things We Said Today” was another they sung in the early part of the show. George had an impressive array of guitars lined up in front of Ringo’s drum kit, and every so often he’d’ go and change to another very thoughtfully. He did before “and I love her” which Paul proceeded to sing in that way he has making every girl think it’s just for her alone.
Needless to say he left half of the audience in tears including me! George took over for “I’m Happy Just to Dance with you” which brought fresh waves of screams from his particular fans. I spent half that song watching my friend Irene because every so often she’d jump about 6 feet in the air as George treated us to the Harrison Shuffle. I was getting as much fun out of watching her as I was watching George. Ringo’s solo was “I wanna be your man” and he was so full of confidence compared to the last concert I’d seen in 1963. Then he’d looked more apprehensive and didn’t smile too much. This time he had a lovely grin on his face all through the song and I just loved the way his silky mop swished to the music.
By this time it was really hot in that hall and John had long since tugged his tie loose. George didn’t seem particularly bothered by the heat but I was just willing Paul to loosen his tie because he was sweating so bad. It was like little rivers trickling down his face and literally flying onto his jacket. If I had to retain just one picture of that concert in my head, it’d be Paul’s face just then.
John and Paul shared vocals for “If I fell” and they looked so good together and really happy. It makes me want to cry thinking about it all these years later. I think “You can’t do that” was also sung that night but honestly my memory is, as I’ve said hazy to say the least! During one of the songs, one lucky girl appeared out of the wings (at about 100mph) and took a flying leap onto John. I might have missed the whole incident but for Marion digging me so hard in the ribs with her elbow that I’ve still got the bruise.
John was in a lovely mood that night and seeing her coming, he quickly whipped his guitar around out of the way, and hugged her for about 10 seconds before two huge security guards dragged her struggling away. I think John enjoyed it as much as she did because he seemed almost sorry and just shrugged his shoulders as she was led away. “I should’ve known better” with John standing asride the mike Lennon-fashion was beautiful and all too soon, it seemed, Paul was breathlessly announcing the last number, “Long Tall Sally.” I know at the time I heard quite a lot that was said but honestly now all I can remember is the dozen or so “Thanks” and “ta’s” and Paul thanking us for being a lovely audience and saying Glasgow was great.
By the time he launched into the final song I was ready to collapse on the floor because I couldn’t’ stand to watch him sweat like that any longer – yet at the same time, my eyes were glued to his face and I just watched the drops forming on his forehead and waited in agony till they trickled down past those eyes.
Well, that was it, they disappeared as fast as they bounced on and I was left with some beautiful memories and very painful knuckles. In my sweet oblivion I’d been hitting my hands on the seat in front. It hurt for days but I’d pay that small price again to see a Beatles concert form the 6th row!