BWW Reviews: THE BEATLES' 50th Brings Their Rock and Roll Celebration Back to the Hollywood Bowl
Back on August 23, 1964, I was an excited teenager on my way to see the Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl. I was so nervous on the drive there I could barely sit still. And of course, it was easy to get caught up in all the screaming once the Beatles took the stage. True it was impossible to hear the music, but that did not matter. I was in the presence of my boys, away from my parents, and experiencing what the 60's were all about for me: love, peace and the Beatles.
The anticipation of celebrating the 50th anniversary of that memorable night had me excited for days, knowing this time I would be able to hear the music and celebrate it along with a sold out Hollywood Bowl audience eager to experience some of the best music ever written. And I was not disappointed.
The evening's host, Bob Eubanks, was one of the top rock and roll DJ's in Los Angeles on KRLA, the #1 radio station for seven years before venturing out into the world of television. In 1964 when the Beatles came along, there was such an overwhelming response to their music, he ventured into what would later be known as the concert business by putting up his home for the $25,000 needed to book the Beatles at the Bowl, the place manager Brian Epstein insisted they play for the status it would bring to the group. Eubanks risked all and pioneered what would later become known worldwide as the historic 1964 Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl Concert on August 23, 1964. The following summer, he would repeat this feat with two shows at the Hollywood Bowl on August 29 and 30, 1965. Then, in 1966, he would promote the Beatles final Los Angeles appearance at Dodger Stadium. Eubanks is one of only three individuals to promote the Beatles Concerts all three years they toured in America. And this writer was at all those Los Angeles shows. But it was the 1964 concert that first opened my eyes to the possibilities of what my generation could become if we all took a stand together.
After Eubanks introduced the show, he brought out another of the famous DJ's from KRLA, Dave Hull, who shared that his inside spy to the Beatles was none other than Louise Harrison, George's sister, who shared the group's addresses and phone numbers with Hull "to support the boys." Hull became known on the West Coast as the fifth Beatle given all his insider information he obtained - and his escapade as a stowaway on their plane. Eubanks and Hull were eager to meet with fans during intermission and after the show, sharing more Beatles and KRLA memories, and hearing first-hand stories from those of us at the historic 1964 show.
The Beatles 50th began with Eubanks reading a note from Paul McCartney who had been invited to perform at the concert but was unable to do so. It's too bad as it would have been great if Paul or Ringo could have jammed with the band on a song or two. But sadly that was not to be.
No matter as the night was a real celebration of the Beatles rock and roll with Dave Stewart of Eurythmics fame leading his band through the 12-song set played by the Beatles at the Bowl in 1964 in the first half, then adding in some of his favorites in the second half, adding in a string quartet and female back-up singers. Flame-haired guest artist Vanessa Amorosi rocked the house during her renditions of "Roll Over Beethoven," "Get Back," and "Let It Be." She is newly arrived from Australia and the next great female rock star. Her numbers were some of the night's highlights, bringing many to their feet dancing as we sang along.
Each song was accompanied by a complementary multimedia display on the Bowl itself. Blackbirds flew onto passing telephone pole wires during "Blackbird" sung by guest artist Mary Lambert. Snowflakes fell as Seattle's Allen Stone sang "Yesterday" while street scenes passed by and flashing circles decorated the howl during his rocking "Got To Get You Into My Life." Floating hearts and masses of bubbles accompanied bandleader Stewart's daughter Kaya's rocking rendition of "Don't Let Me Down," during which she ventured out onto a platform around the front section of the audience nearest the stage - a practice done by several singers and musicians - much to the delight of nearby audience members. Kaya's rendition of "Eleanor Rigby" brought a real sassiness to the song about a woman whose life has passed her by.
Bill Ray Cyrus joined in the festivities with renditions of "A Hard Day's Night" and the light -inspiring "Hey Jude." Liv Warfield's soulful "Come Together" channeled visions of Prince stepping out and owning the stage.
Sam Stewart on guitar along with his brother Django Stewart on vocals added more family musical talent to the stage. They rocked "She Loves You" with the audience gladly joining in with each "Yeah Yeah Yeah" and saluted George Harrison with a heartfelt rendition of his best song, "Something"
With the Bowl decorated in rainbow colors, Dave Stewart, bedecked in top hat, led all the singers and musicians in the grand finale "All You Need Is Love," sending the positive message home with each of us to share with our family and friends. I didn't want the night to end - what a treat to be in audience of fans of all ages, listening and dancing to the music I have loved for over 50 years. And it was certainly inspiring to look up at the audience behind me during "Hey Jude" and "Let it Be" to see so many lit up cell phones swaying in unison. The Beatles music truly spans all generations, sending out the message that with love and caring for each other, anything is possible - even celebrating an event held 50 years ago that started a worldwide social revolution.
THE BEATLES' 50th AT THE BOWL
FRIDAY / SATURDAY August 22, 23, 2014 at 8:00pm
SUNDAY August 24, 2014 at 7:30pmFearturing: photo credit: Michelle Shiers
Dave Stewart, ringmaster
Mary Lambert (except Saturday)
Michelle Branch (except Friday)
Martina McBride (except Friday)
and Bob Eubanks, special guest
Dave Hull, special guest
Michael Bradford, music director / bass
Randy Cooke, drums
Blair Sinta, drums
Neil Swanson, guitar
Sam Stewart, guitar
Jason Borger, keys
Rami Jaffee, keys
Ann Marie Calhoun, violin
Abby Khalek, violin
Alice Ping, viola
Dom Lewis, cello
Jimmy Z, harmonica / sax
Paul Clark, sax
Sean Billings, trumpet
Kaya Stewart, vocals
Django Stewart, vocals
Nayanna Holley, background vocals
Stevvi Alexander, background vocals
FIRST HALF: The 1964 Set
1. Twist and Shout (The Top Notes cover)
2. You Can't Do That
3. All My Loving - with 1964 Bowl performance footage video.
4. She Loves You
5. Things We Said Today
6. Roll over Beethoven (Chuck Berry cover)
7. Can't Buy Me Love
8. If I Fell
9. I Want to Hold Your Hand
10. Boys (The Shirelles cover)
11. A Hard Day's Night - screaming girls footage from 1964 Bowl
12. Long Tall Sally (Little Richard cover)
1. Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Bans
2. With a Little Help From My Friends
3. Come Together
6. Here Comes the Sun
7. Eleanor Rigby
9. Get Back
10. Hey Jude
12. Don't Let Me Down
13. Got To Get You Into My Life
14. Let It Be
Finale: All You Need Is Love
Dave Stewart and all his guest singers
The sea of lights during "Hey Jude"