Curious question about the Beatles concert at Festival Hall in 1964

The Beatles

Question: Did you go to any of the Beatles’ concerts at Festival Hall in June 1964?

I’m asking because I was there and I want to know whether, if I happen to live until I’m 95 – which is 25 years away – will I be the only living person on the planet to have seen The Beatles in Melbourne?

It’s more possible than impossible. I was only 10 when my parents took me. Why they took me I have no idea and I can’t ask them because they’re long deceased, but I suspect my father, as a working journalist on the night, may have been gifted a couple of free tickets.

There can’t have been too many 10-year-olds in the audience at any of the six concerts. I certainly don’t recall seeing any.

In truth, the only thing I can recall about that night was arriving and having three elderly women sitting in front of me. They were probably in their 30s, but that was old for a kid.

Fanatical fans

When the Beatles walked onto the stage, these women stood and screamed. To see anything, I had to stand on my seat. As for hearing anything, that was almost impossible over the screaming of every female in the hall.

All these recollections and questions came into my head this week as I contemplated going to Paul McCartney’s upcoming concert in Melbourne. I asked my wife but she wasn’t interested in seeing some 81-year-old sing songs she has no great affinity with.

This is just part of the massive musical void into which she was raised, probably because she grew up in central Queensland where they knew the difference between frogs and cane toads, how to catch and cook mud crabs, and how to step over avocados as they lay rotting in the back garden. But bands from Liverpool? Who cared.

For me, I can recall seeing the album cover for Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and thinking it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. As for the music, who could have imagined anything so perfect. Not a bad track on the entire album. Or so I thought.

Who’s your favourite?

Recently, I put together a list of my favourite Beatles songs to play as my wife and I drove across the Nullarbor and I was surprised to discover that, as of June 2023, most of my favourites were sung by John Lennon.

This has been a fluid list over the years, but as of that moment, my No. 1 was In My Life from their outstanding Rubber Soul album. Others in my list included Don’t Let Me Down, Come Together, A Day in The Life, Doctor Robert, Julia and Strawberry Fields Forever, all sung by Lennon.

As a kid, Paul McCartney was my favourite Beatle and as close to my hero as anyone ever got. Hence, I’d like to go to his concert to simply say thanks for the enjoyment he has given me because it has been considerable.

And to the boy who got suspended – perhaps even expelled, I’m not sure – from Haileybury College in 1970 for refusing to cut his mop top hairdo, I’m sorry I didn’t have the courage to support you.

Are you a Beatles fan? Will you go to one of the McCartney concerts? Did you or anyone you know go to the concerts in 1964?

Also read: Amazing things music can do for your mood, mind and body

Written by Steve Perkin

Steve Perkin had a long and distinguished career as a journalist, covering sport and general news and writing daily columns for The Age and the Herald Sun. He's written three books and is a regular YourLifeChoices contributor.

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  1. I was 18 in 1964 and, with 2 friends, ran the Beatles Fan Club in Adelaide. The Club was an integral part of the huge campaign mounted, with the help of John Martins’ retail store, d.j. Bob Francis and music entrepreneur Ron Tremaine, to get the band to play in Adelaide. History has recorded the success of that campaign and the massive crowds that greeted the band- 30-40,000 on the route from the airport to the Town Hall, where another 250,000+ had gathered. It remained as the largest welcoming crowd ever throughout the Beatles’ 10-year reign as the biggest band in the world. My 2 friends and I were lucky enough to meet John,Paul,George and substitute drummer Jimmie Nicol at the since-demolished South Australian Hotel, thanks to the influence of Bob Francis- and it wasn’t just a quick handshake and “Thanks for coming, lads.” They were genuinely interested in the work that we and their fans had put in to get them to Adelaide and we chatted for about 15 minutes, even half-seriously offering to sneak them out the back for a drive to get them away from their “prison” for a while. John Lennon was up for it, saying that so far, all he’d seen was the inside of cars and hotel rooms -and a cheese sandwich. I still lhave the autographs and photos (damaged,sadly) from that meeting and the cherry on top of course was going to both concerts in Adelaide later that day. Like Steve Perkin, I couldn’t hear a thing of course apart from the screaming. Certainly one of the greatest thrills in my life! P.S. Years later, I met George Harrison in Adelaide on several occasions when he attended the Formula 1 Grand Prix race but by then he could walk the streets virtually unrecognised.

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