Let’s get straight to the point, The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years is an unparalleled celebration and fascinating exploration of one of the greatest bands of all-time. Compiled and lovingly created by Ron Howard, with a little help from his friends and more, this documentary both opens the eyes and excites the senses to reveal a time that had never happened before… and now you get to experience it.
The overwhelming feeling you’ll get during, and afterwards, is one of admiration for the group that changed the music industry forever. The Beatles were just a group, for sure, but they were also great friends on an adventure like no other and along the way they just happened to be super talented, write hit after hit, change their style, change their sound and still succeed at the highest level. Saying all that, this documentary concentrates specifically on the touring and I’d completely taken for granted they’d only ever ‘really’ got out into the world and played live through those earlier years.
It was all about the commitment of the live performances for The Beatles and after playing small clubs in the likes of Liverpool and Hamburg, appearing on the Ed Sullivan show in 1964 in the States changed everything that’s come since. Moving onto eventual stadium tours as their success grew and grew; it’s hard to believe this kind of tour had never happened before. We probably take for granted the sound equipment and organisation that takes place in the modern era now because when The Beatles played Shea Stadium in 1965, the music was coming out of the PA system and most people probably couldn’t even hear it due to the screaming crowds, but the band continued to play and entertain because that’s what they were there to do.
The beautiful part of Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years is seeing the interaction between the band and how they really understood each other, both comically and musically. It’s hard not to be inspired by their comic value and this was all before anyone had even heard of the idea of commercialism and music industry as it stands today. Granted, their manager Brian Epstein did have a say in how they appeared, with those iconic suits early on, but without the chemistry between them both on and off stage, they may not have been quite been as big as they obviously deserved to be.
Just a couple of highlights, from many, for me include watching various Dad’s not knowing what to do with his hysterical daughter’s during a gig, as they’re crying and singing and he just wants to help. Plus the girl who loves George’s ‘sexy eyelashes’ which is hilarious (clip here) and just makes you feel the excitement they can feel in the crowds waiting to see even the slightest slither of the band in person.
The Blu-ray release comes with a ton of extras which includes ‘Words and Music’ in which they talk to John, Paul, George and Ringo about their song-writing influences, ‘Early clues to a new direction’ which has more unseen footage and interviews, ‘Liverpool’ that’s self-explanatory and ‘The Beatles in Concert’ where you’ll see full length performances of five of their famous songs. But that’s not it as there’s also another seven extras on top of that, the wealth of information here is wonderful.
In The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, Ron Howard has helped produce a truly unique insight that is fully backed by Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Yoko Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison alongside many, many others. It’s an absolute labour of love and an even greater pleasure to experience.
5/5 – The Beatles: Eight Days a week – The Touring Years is available now to pre-order and will be released on Monday 21st November on Digital Download, Blu-ray, DVD and a special 2-disc edition for both the latter formats from Studiocanal and Polygram Entertainment.
The 2-disc edition (here) contains the movie, plus a bonus disc that contains approximately 100 minutes of extras, listed above, and a 64-page booklet with rare photos… and more!