A half-century after the Beatles called it quits as a touring band, 2016 is rapidly becoming the year of the Beatles Live-Revisited.
There’s the forthcoming Ron Howard-directed documentary “Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years,” which premieres in theaters nationwide in mid-September. And now a newly restored film with remastered sound of the Fab Four’s performance Aug. 15, 1965, at New York’s Shea Stadium will be screened in conjunction with the Howard picture.
The film has never been released for home video, but it was shown in 1967 as an ABC-TV special “The Beatles at Shea Stadium.” It encompasses 11 songs and, typical of the Beatles’ performances during that time, lasts just 30 minutes.
It has been given a 4K restoration, and the sound has been upgraded by Giles Martin, son of Beatles original producer George Martin. The concert was captured by 14 35-mm cameras for the film, first shown in the U.K. in 1966 before airing in color in the U.S. the following year.
“Shea Stadium, other than the sound issues, of everything that was ever shot in the ’60s of any group, I think Shea Stadium is the highest-quality film,” Ron Furmanek, who has worked on the film’s restoration, told Billboard. “It looks better than ‘Woodstock,’ ‘Gimme Shelter,’ ‘Monterey Pop.’ It really does. … It’s stunning.”
The Shea set list consisted of “Twist and Shout,” “She’s a Woman,” “I Feel Fine,” “Dizzy Miss Lizzy,” “Ticket to Ride,” “Everybody’s Trying To Be My Baby,” “Baby’s in Black,” “Act Naturally,” “A Hard Day’s Night,” “Help!” and “I’m Down.”
The Beatles gave up touring and decided to focus their energies on their recordings following their Aug. 29, 1966, concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.
As Ringo Starr told The Times in a recent interview, “We were playing great and the audiences were getting bigger, and the noise of the audience was overpowering the sounds that we could make. And we started, in my book, to go down as musicians because we were just going on to do the job. And we did it very well, but there was no real excitement for me.
“I’m not putting it down in any way,” Starr said. “They screamed — that was part of this experience — and the experience for us got less, because we’re musicians. … We liked to play great. And in the end, we couldn’t do that live.”
Howard’s documentary combines existing footage of the Beatles performing live with fan-submitted films and photos to give neophyte and longtime fans a fresh look at the Beatles as a touring unit.
Additionally, Capitol Records recently announced that the long out-of-print “The Beatles: Live at the Hollywood Bowl” album, first released in 1977, also is being sonically upgraded for rerelease in conjunction with the new documentary.
The Grammy Museum in Los Angeles recently opened “Ladies and Gentlemen: The Beatles!” The exhibit documents many aspects of the group’s live performances as well as their growth as recording artists.