The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years focuses on the years spent touring on the road during the height of Beatlemania.
I’ve been in something of a Beatles kick of late–my flight to LA saw me listening to Pure McCartney while my return trip covered Please Please Me through Rubber Soul or Revolver. I’ll get through the rest of the albums when I fly to NY in December. My review of the Concert for George will be running on the 20th anniversary but I decided to spend my Sunday afternoon watching The Beatles: Eight Days a Week. It’s my first viewing since May 2019. I was a few years late in watching but better late than never! Plus, I never got around to doing a rewatch last year. When the world is burning, sometimes you just need to watch a film about four lads from Liverpool. After all, they were about love, peace, and understanding.
The large majority of the film focuses on the years leading up to August 1966 when a stint at Candlestick Park would end it all. There is a postscript focusing on the recording of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and an excerpt of the Rooftop Concert. But for a few years there, The Beatles had it all. Well, aside from the pressure of thousands of fans wanting to crush them at the door or rush the stage. When you listen to them and others discussing this, you could certainly understand why they chose to end their life on the road. This was an era before YouTube so if you wanted to see The Beatles, you had to attend! In any event, filmmaker Ron Howard begins with their life at the Cavern Club in Liverpool.
Interestingly, not much has changed in the music industry. According to Ringo Starr, they made more money from the concerts than they did from selling records. They basically had to perform at stadiums because a smaller venue would lead to thousands of fans waiting outside. If there is any artist today that can be compared to Beatlemania at its height–surviving Beatles not withstanding–it’s probably Taylor Swift. Look at the demand that presales placed on the Ticketmaster servers!
This documentary is the first one for the band following The Beatles Anthology in 1995. Ron Howard gets deep into the archives to give fans rare footage, including some never available to the public before. This is in addition to both new and archival interviews with surviving Beatles and other fans and insiders. Whoopi Goldberg, Eddie Izzard, and Elvis Costello are among the interviewees. Philadelphia news journalist Larry Kane also discusses his time with The Beatles, too. Suffice it to say, Beatles fans are in for a treat.
This film makes for a fascinating watch after last year’s epic documentary series, The Beatles: Get Back. Not so much because of what is or isn’t said but because of the quality in the restoration. You can especially see the difference during the concert footage at the end. There’s no comparison, really. The restoration is just above and beyond in the Peter Jackson documentary. This isn’t to take anything away from Ron Howard’s efforts here but I will say when it comes to anything about The Beatles, longer is always better. Is 100 minutes enough? Probably not but there’s only so much that one can do when it comes to telling the story. That being said, the sound is absolutely amazing here. Giles Martin does what he does best when it comes to producing the music.
The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years is a solid addition to the canon of documentaries on The Beatles.
DIRECTOR: Ron Howard
SCREENWRITER: Mark Monroe
FEATURING: John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, Ringo Starr
Abramorama released The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years in theaters on September 15, 2016 while Hulu started streaming the film on September 17, 2016. Grade: 4/5
Please subscribe to Solzy at the Movies on Substack.