With all the Apple fanboy media attention paid this past week to the fact that the Beatles catalog was finally showing up on iTunes—like this is some kind of big deal to the man on the street—one nifty lil’ bit of news that most certainly was worth perking up for, got left out of a lot of the coverage: Until the end of the year, you can watch, for free on iTunes, the most amazing complete Beatles show you’ve ever seen. A show that was literally their first American concert, shot just two days after their Ed Sullivan TV debut, at the Washington Coliseum on February 11, 1964.
It’s amazing to see this. As the story is told, when they began to play, they had no idea what to expect. Recent concerts in Paris were played to unenthusiastic audiences. The between song banter assumes that the audience is not familiar with certain numbers, although this is seen to be demonstrably untrue, as the band, of course realize. And they are lovin’ it. The energy is palpable, and the entire set is one big 35-minute long adrenaline shot, as exciting to watch today as was then, but the added meta-historical layer of seeing the Beatles do an entire concert the very week they went from being up and comers to the most important musicians of the later half of the 20th century and beyond, is kinda cool, too.
The performance here is way better than the one captured in color at Shea Stadiumd a year later. That film was more about the insanity of Beatlemania than the music, anyway. Here, musically, they are tight as hell. This has been bootlegged forever, but never seen in good quality like this. Trust me, if you’re a Beatles fan, this will blow your mind… out in a car.
When you go to iTunes, you’ll be confronted with a box of Beatles related information. Click on “Play the Concert.” Do it. Do it now.