Are criticisms of the Beatles as a Live Band overblown?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by JABEE, Jan 11, 2018.

  1. Mainline461

    Mainline461 Forum Resident

    Tamiami Trail
    Seeing that the Beatles pretty much always played through ultra clean amps (Vox AC-30's, Fender Twins, etc.) they held their own better than most would under the circumstances. They used no distortion pedals, no Marshall amp distortion, just out there naked, piercing clean, nothing to hide behind. Even in the studio they pretty much played clean. Revolution was one exception and I'm sure there are others but not many. Distortion hides many a mistake.
    Paulwalrus likes this.
  2. notesfrom

    notesfrom Forum Resident

    NC USA
    They never played it live again - nor have Paul or Ringo, bafflingly, let alone John or George.

    That's like Dylan never playing 'Like A Rolling Stone' beyond 1966. Or the Stones doing the same with 'Satisfaction'. Hendrix not doing 'Purple Haze' beyond '67. Cream or Clapton never doing 'Sunshine Of Your Love' beyond '67. Or Don McLean retiring 'American Pie' after one tour. Or Judy Garland never dusting off 'Over The Rainbow' beyond a certain point. Etc. etc.

    Of course, the Beatles had so many other songs and hits to pick from, even in the solo realm.

    One would think there would be more 1964 recordings from the UK and Paris shows, however.

    They did these crazy residencies to begin the year - 10 straight nights at the Finsbury Park Astoria in January (a continuation of their ’63 Christmas shows; 16 nights in all) - followed by 21 ngihts straight at the Olympia in Paris. A 27-date Autumn UK tour where they may have been playing two shows a day. Then the a Christmas run in London of 21 nights that ran into mid-January of ’65 There are no set lists of the Autumn ’64 UK Tour or Christmas residency that I’ve seen, let alone any recordings of concerts. I suppose the Empire Liverpool show, though recorded on 22, December, will have to represent the Beatles’ insane 1963 tour schedule.

    List of the Beatles' live performances - Wikipedia
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
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  3. drbryant

    drbryant Forum Resident

    That may be true of the original Let it Be footage, but audio on some of the more recent video we’ve seen from the rooftop seem to have been tampered with (like Lennon’s solo on Get Back).

    The Beatles could have been great but they stopped touring before they were able to show it. The Stones sounded terrible out of the gate in the summer of 1969 at Hyde Park, but four months of rehearsals later, as the video footage and tapes of the 69 Tour amply demonstrate, they were the best band on the planet, and they actually got better after that.

    The Beatles had great musicians and great vocalists. In a perfect world, they would have had the relationships and interest necessary to rehearse for four months and plan a real show. But, that wasn’t the reality, so we’re left without a real live legacy.
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  4. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident

    Lawrenceville, NJ
    The real audio is out there, so judge that.
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  5. notesfrom

    notesfrom Forum Resident

    NC USA
    George is getting some fuzz distortion out of his Vox AC 100 here, verging on heavy metal. Almost sounds like he's using a fuzz pedal, since Lennon's tone is relatively clean out of the same setup - Casino/AC 100.

  6. drbryant

    drbryant Forum Resident

    Nah. I was just asking a question, not questioning your expertise. I parted with all of my Beatles bootlegs 20 years ago, keeping only the Great Dane BBC stuff, the Swinging Pig CD’s, some select Yellow Dog items, and some early sentimental favorites (20x4, Roots, Sessions, Glyn Johns Get Back 2).

    It was fun for a while, though.
    No Bull likes this.
  7. Mike Visco

    Mike Visco Forum Resident

    Newark, NJ
    Get Back sessions-we would all be in for a treat and I would have no objection to an Edit Be (Naked) treatment of live footage, especially if the video matched the audio edits and all. It can be done transparently as long as there is adequate video footage. But just give me complete performance songs. No movie necessary or Whoopi Goldberg overtalk documentary. Dig it and For You Blue were filmed entirely...that stuff too.

    It would be a bit cheating but no more so than Shea...probably better.
  8. drbryant

    drbryant Forum Resident

    The other thing to consider is that the Beatles individually showed considerable ability and presence in a live setting following the breakup. John in Toronto, George at Bangla Desh, and of course, Paul over the years. It's pretty clear that if they could have put up with each other, they would have been a great band once rock acts began putting serious effort into their live performances.

    I flew to Auckland last month and saw Paul's most recent show. His voice was completely shot, but he remains a great performer and still puts on a warm, nostalgic, and ultimately satisfying show. My video of "Mull of Kintyre" is below.

  9. Wombat Reynolds

    Wombat Reynolds Jimmy Page stole all my best riffs.

    Atlanta, GA, USA
    only armchair quarterbacks who have never done a gig with no monitors, or in a lot of cases here, never done the FIRST gig, would venture an opinion that they werent a great live band, or at least very good under extremely difficult circumstances.

    I dont know how to say this any differently. Do hundreds of gigs and then get back to me. Zeppelin live, same thing. Do hundreds of gigs and then get back to me.

    Wow. Hoffman leading the way again in ridiculous criticisms of musicians who freaking earned their legend, one note at a time. Unreal.
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  10. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident

    Lawrenceville, NJ
    It is difficult to imagine how they sang harmonies the way they did with loud screaming crowds and no monitors. It would seem possible only with perfect pitch, and I have never heard reports that they had perfect pitch. Truly an amazing feat, yet folks focus on them occasionally being slightly out of tune.
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  11. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    : )
  12. Michael

    Michael I LOVE WIDE S-T-E-R-E-O!

    that's the way it is...some just have to find fault.
    Wombat Reynolds likes this.
  13. jricc

    jricc Forum Resident

    Jersey Shore
    Ringo kicking a##!
  14. Tristero

    Tristero Forum Resident

    No one is saying that they were horrible. Compared to their triumphs in the studio, live performance just wasn't area where they particularly excelled, in my opinion, for a variety of perfectly understandable reasons, including primitive technology and shrieking fans. Nothing to get hung about.
  15. The January '69 London Rooftop gig is my fave live performance ever.

    That said, there's not a year that they were playing as a live band where they didn't have mind blowing, absolutely stellar live gigs.

    It's true that sometimes, terrible equipment logistics & other such issues (exhaustion from touring schedule) may have made for some shows that might not sound as great as the mind blowers...but... they were as great as it's ever got, both in the studio & live!!!
  16. rswitzer

    rswitzer Forum Resident

    Golden, CO USA
    How many of their early recordings were 1st takes? Aren't there more than a few where someone hit "record" and they just let it rip? Other songs they learned and recorded in a single day, never to revisit them. Pretty impressive.

    How many bands had TWO of the most outstanding vocalists ever?
  17. cwitt1980

    cwitt1980 Forum Resident

    Carbondale, IL USA
    They sound pretty good when you can tell they could hear themselves. The '65 Atlanta show comes to mind. They play pretty good and seem really happy that they are LOUD. I'm sure they could have sounded much better had they been able to hear themselves all the time and their focus was on the live show. However, their focus was not. It was about recording and the shows just seem like chaotic points of their being... "the eye of the hurricane" as George said. That chaos is certainly reflected in their playing.

    Another great live show IMO is the Washington DC show with lots of energy and if we could see the Hamburg Ringo in action, this is probably the closest we come.
  18. Purple Jim

    Purple Jim Forum Resident

    Little Britain
    Pretty well every pop band sounded tin-pot up to 1966 but The Beatles were a terrific band and had no problem putting on a killer show if they could hear themselves and the time was right.
    tages likes this.
  19. moople72

    moople72 Forum Resident

    The first US concert in Washington is astonishing, don't let the sound quality fool you.
    The idea that they were no good live is an outdated meme from the 70s and early 80s.
    They made their bones as a live band, make no bones about it.
  20. Lemon Curry

    Lemon Curry (A) Face In The Crowd

    Mahwah, NJ
    The band was tremendously exciting in their Hamburg amphetimine stage, clearly still on their game on Swedish TV in '63, and still sounding very exciting in '64 in Washington DC (did they EVER play a better version of "I Saw Her Standing There"?), and at the Hollywood Bowl.
    But I would agree as the songs got more complex in '65 and especially '66 they got blander on stage.
  21. AndyK235

    AndyK235 Forum Resident

    The Beatles post Beatlemania COULD be a GREAT live band. I agree by 1966, they were phoning it in, but earlier concert footage, BBC and other live recordings with decent quality equipment from '63 and '64 are often very good. Their Feb 11, 1964 Washington DC concert is a very high energy performance, playing in a very bad place to have a rock concert but nevertheless playing an excellent set. Live at the BBC and Anthology discs have a number of very good live performances to get an idea of how they could sound.
  22. YardByrd

    YardByrd Forum Resident

    Expat in Helsinki
    Keef is getting to the point where only enjoys smelling his own flatulence... and I love the Stones...
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  23. YardByrd

    YardByrd Forum Resident

    Expat in Helsinki
    Hollywood Bowl was my fave LP as a whippersnapper in the 70s... still value it highly and it's because they sound great... I mean "Boys" live? Maybe been equalled but never bettered... by anyone...
  24. tages

    tages Forum Resident

    I respect this viewpoint but I see it the other way round. The excitement and frenzy these guys whipped up onstage at the Cavern, or in Hamburg, is what made them stand out from virtually every other band.

    Listen to those early LPs. Practically live and the band is on fire. Tight and swinging. And those harmonies.

    Of course as their writing changed their songs were more studio based. But at their core they were always a great rock and roll band. Ringo on drums, how could they be anything but?
  25. DRM

    DRM Forum Resident

    The Beatles were always better than the Stones in so many ways.
    misteranderson and drbryant like this.

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