This was The Beatles’ third concert in Sheffield, Yorkshire. They performed two sets at the Azena Ballroom.
The group had been booked by Sheffield promoter Peter Stringfellow, who later became a well-known London-based nightclub owner. Stringfellow had been quoted a charge of £65 to book the group; Brian Epstein later tried to put the price up to £90 due to The Beatles’ chart success with the Please Please Me album, but they eventually settled on a compromise of £85.
The Beatles were originally to have appeared at Stringfellow’s Black Cat Club, at St Aidens Church Hall on Sheffield’s City Road, but police advised that it be moved because of the large crowds expected. The night’s hire cost for the Azena was £29.
Stringfellow sold 2,000 tickets for the show, well in excess of the Azena’s 500 person capacity. Predictably there were chaotic scenes both inside and outside the venue, with a number of people turned away. Tickets were initially four shillings, rising to five shillings nearer the day of the concert.
The setlist was written by Paul McCartney on the back of a Parlophone postcard. It was picked up backstage after the concert by the drummer of support band The Aidens.
The building which once housed the Azena is now a supermarket. The Beatles are said to have autographed a backstage wall at the Azena, with their signatures still remaining on a wall in the building.
This concert was initially thought to have taken place on 12 February 1963; however, later evidence suggests it was, in fact, 2 April of that year. Additionally, a poster featuring The Beatles’ ‘drop-T’ logo, and the 12 February date, is known to be a fake.
Also on this day...
- 1973: US album release: 1967-1970 (Blue Album)
- 1973: John Lennon and Yoko Ono announce the conceptual country Nutopia
- 1973: US album release: 1962-1966 (Red Album)
- 1970: Mixing, editing: The Long And Winding Road, I Me Mine, Across The Universe
- 1965: Mixing: You’re Going To Lose That Girl
- 1965: Filming: Help!
- 1964: Filming: A Hard Day’s Night
- 1962: Live: Pavilion Theatre, Liverpool
- 1962: Live: Cavern Club, Liverpool (lunchtime)
- 1961: Live: Top Ten Club, Hamburg
Want more? Visit the Beatles history section.
What an interesting setlist! Two sets with 10 songs in each. Six months later that would be cut in half. The second set has a “Please (?)”. I make a guess that the ´?´ means it was an option for a possible repeat of Please please me, played in the first set, since it was their first number one hit song. But it could of course be Please mr postman they intended. Seems something more is written after Long tall Sally but it is not possible to make out if indeed it was another song.
One thing that strikes me is that it is a lot of George´s songs here. First set has him singing lead on Chains and Three cool cats. And possibly Hey good looking: I do remember reading somewhere that George used to sing that. The only Beatles performance of it that I know of is during the Jan 30 1969 Get Back Session. Paul starts off something that can not be referred to as singing but John comes up with some of the lyrics for the song. Second set has Roll over Beethoven and Do you want to know a secret. Four if not five out of twenty –not bad. Ringo´s only vocal is Boys in the second set. I wonder if Hey good looking actually could have been one of Ringo´s numbers? He liked his country & western songs and it´s not that far away in style from say, Honey don´t. Or maybe it was John´s all the time.
I also make the comparison with another setlist that emerged from somebody´s notebook; a gig in Port Sunlight on Oct 6, 1962. 15 songs, George sings lead on 5 or 6 of them! So he had some 25-30% of the songs as his numbers then. Come fame and he only had like 1 out of 11 or 12, that´s 8-9 %.
Pity there´s no recording of it. There are just about nothing available of The Beatles playing live during most of 1963, a few radio recordings with basically the same songs are what we have.
Randomly my mum mentioned she was in the balcony with my father at this gig….. what an expierence this must have been. She mentioned the buzz prior to the gig and the Stringfellow connection. Remarkably, she had kept this to herself for 55 years after knowing full well I’ve been a Beatles anorak all of my life.
Apparently dad wasn’t that impressed, but mum and her friends “swooned” by the sounds of it……. This is just one reason why I love my mum so much, always a story up her sleeve.
Remembering the Beatles appearance at the Azena in 1963, here is my story.
We lived at the time  just off CIty Road ,on Dovercourt Road.,and my Father was the churchwarden of St,Aidans Church Hall.
As he was responsible for any bookings regarding the Church Hall, he was approached by this young man who wanted to hire the hall for music[ and obviously dancing]
My father said he would put it “to the commttee”, and asked the young man his name ,he said”,Stringfellow ,
After terms were agreed , my father said to him that that would be fine, providing myself and my sister were allowed, this was agreed, no problem, so was born the Black Cat Club!
So we enjoyed the brilliant Dave Berry, Count Lindsey and the Skeletons, and other groups of the time .some of who went on to be well known.
Peter Stringfellow rang my Dad and told him that he had a group from Liverpool that he wanted to book to play the club. He told my Dad that he would not have heard about them, but they were called “The Beatles”!
Having just recently read Peter’s book” King of Clubs”. an enjoyable read, I was surprised that there were some inaccuracies, one of which was the date of Azena gig.
It was initially scheduled for the Black Cat , but then my Dad was told by Peter that as “they had a record in the charts,” the demand for tickets had gone astronomical, and that they would have to find a new venue, so it was moved to the Azena, which at the time ,I knew ,because I was a” regular” was in a different league to the Black Cat Club .However ,this gig was not in February ,it was definitely in April [you don’t have many sunny evenings in Sheffield in February,] and I remember that clearly, in spite of the fact that it was all but impossible to hear anything of the Beatles at all that night -sheer pandemonium!
Magic times , unrepeatable to my mind, and incidentally the girl who dealt with Peter Stringfellow’s advertising at the Sheffield Telegraph & Star for the Mojo club has ,I am privileged to say, been married to me for 51 years ,and, living now in France in our retirement, we still have the vinyls to play from all those years ago .and remember all those good times ,all those good friends!
Hope you enjoyed this, thanks for reading
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