Last weekend the Hollywood Bowl celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Beatles’ debut performance at the storied venue. The bandleader for the three nights was Dave Stewart, producer, guitarist, father and co-founder of Eurythmics.
He invited some peers and family members to remember the moment that Beatlemania officially conquered Los Angeles. These guests included Billy Ray Cyrus, Mary Lambert, Allen Stone -- and a whole lot of Dave Stewart and family.
If the volume of email and many livid posts on the Bowl’s Facebook page are any indication, the evening didn’t go well. Some wondered why The Times had yet to chime in, and even imagined a conspiracy involving a spiked review.
(Because of other events last weekend -- specifically, the FYF Fest at Exposition Park -- The Times didn’t send a critic to the show to review it for the paper. Truth be told, another deciding factor for not doing so was that the roster didn’t look all that interesting.)
But the Times’ Randy Lewis attended Friday’s show, and described it as “a train wreck” -- as well as “under-rehearsed, and decidedly lacking in passion toward this music."
The show prompted Lewis, like many others, to wonder where the star-power was: “In this town, with a thousand musicians who know this music inside out and love it, why they couldn’t pull together a group of musicians more invested in making the music breathe is confounding.”
Writing for the Orange County Register, critic Steve Mirkin was scathing: “This was as flat-footed and desultory a re-creation of the Beatles as can be imagined, so jaw-droppingly bad, it reminded one of ‘Springtime for Hitler,’ only with mop tops in place of mustaches.”
Attendees posting on the Bowl’s Facebook page were just as harsh: “The worst concert ever,” wrote one: “A sold out crowd was expecting a tribute to the Beatles and this ‘Stewart Family’ act was an embarrassment to the tradition of the Hollywood Bowl. I yelled it last night and I’ll yell it again... BOO!!!”
Another commenter noticed that some of the Beatles’ great lyrics were flubbed. “It’s sad that the kids in the row behind us pointed out when the entertainers messed up the lyrics. It’s a shame that there were so many absolutely horrible portions to this show. I can’t think of anything that I enjoyed aside from the outside of the Bowl being lit up. Everyone around us were cracking jokes and NO ONE complained because it was a better show then that in front of us.”
Those who knew history, though, might have predicted this. None other than John Lennon had some choice words to say about the band’s Bowl gigs. Asked by Rolling Stone founder Jann Wenner during an interview what Lennon thought of the concert, Lennon was blunt. “It was awful. Hated it.”
We’ve contacted the Hollywood Bowl for an official response to critics of the Beatles tribute. We’ll update this post with any fresh information.
Update, Aug. 27, 2:34 p.m. The Los Angeles Philharmonic has released a statement regarding the criticism of the Bowl shows. It is republished in its entirety below:
“We appreciate that the Hollywood Bowl has enthusiastic, engaged and loyal patrons. We take their comments to heart and are of course disappointed when any of our patrons are unsatisfied."
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