The Beatles live: Odeon Cinema, Manchester

The Beatles’ only appearance at the Odeon Cinema on Manchester’s Oxford Street was the twelfth date of the group’s UK tour with Roy Orbison.

They performed a seven-song set on this occasion: ‘Some Other Guy’, ‘Do You Want To Know A Secret’, ‘Love Me Do’, ‘From Me To You’, ‘Please Please Me’, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and ‘Twist And Shout’.

The concert was subsequently reviewed in the Daily Express by Derek Taylor, the newspaper’s northern England showbusiness correspondent.

At the morning conference on 30 May 1963 I announced my desire to see and cover a one-night stand at Manchester Odeon, starring The Beatles and Roy Orbison. Nobody else at the Express had heard of either The Beatles or Roy Orbison, but that wasn’t important because it was agreed that the show would be featured on merit. If there was a story, fine; if not, the space would be allocated to something else. Free tickets were not issued to the press for pop shows, so I telephoned Mr Bint, manager of the Odeon; he said he had two left, for the front row of the stalls, in the middle. It proved to be the best two pounds I ever spent…

We pushed our way through to the box-office for our tickets, which were awaiting us, as Mr Bint had promised, in a brown envelope; and then settled into excellent seats a few feet from the stage of that great provincial picture palace. All around us was the hiss and bustle of great expectations. This beguiling and beguiled post-war generation of teenagers was about to see the greatest group of entertainers the world had ever known, did they but know it, and most of them did. When, two hours later, it was over bar the screaming, Joan and I knew that something of extraordinary power had been acted out before our eyes. We went to the telephone and, in a rush of blood and words to the head, I dictated the review without a note, just as it came, and they printed all but one paragraph of it.

‘I do not mind lying but I hate inaccuracy,’ Samuel Butler said. It would be both lying and inaccurate to say that I remember how they performed that night. I have seen them so many times since, all over the world and in so many different venues, that much of the performing merges into one great integrated celebration of life and popular music, laughter and rhythm and love and friendship… Many times I felt myself falling into a trap, overwhelmed by a frustration and resentment at any demur to my belief that in The Beatles the world had found the truest folk heroes of the century or, indeed, of any other time. From that day, 30 May 1963, I have never wavered in my certainty that they painted a new rainbow right across the world, with crocks of gold at each end and then some…

Derek Taylor
Fifty Years Adrift

Although his editors expected a negative review of what they considered to be a teenage fad, Taylor found The Beatles enchanting.

Measuring it word by word, let me make a solemn declaration that because of the city of Liverpool, popular music, after years of turmoil and unspeakable rubbish, has become healthy and gay and good again.

The Liverpool Sound came to Manchester last night, and I thought it was magnificent… Indecipherable, meaningless nonsense, of course, but as beneficial and invigorating as a week on a beach at the pierhead overlooking the Mersey.

The spectacle of these fresh, cheeky, sharp, young entertainers in apposition to the shiny-eyed teenage idolaters is as good as a rejuvenating drug for the jaded adult.

I suppose there is not – yet – a first-class musician among them. Last night’s audience of screamers gave the ear little chance of picking up two consecutive notes. And record companies can work wonders in the studios. So how can you tell whether there is any quality?

I suppose also that in another 12 months another sound will have been fed to the teenagers. But in the meantime, The Beatles and Gerry and the Pacemakers – who, with their first record arrived at No. 1 on the hit parade – were a fair-sized sensation.

Their stage manner has little polish but limitless energy, and they have in abundance the fundamental rough good humour of their native city.

It was difficult to believe that the reception they had when they closed the first half of a generous bill would be exceeded by the noise accorded to The Beatles.

One underestimates the teenage audience who gear their enthusiasm in ratio to the status of a star. It was really The Beatles we had gone to see.

When the no-lapelled, shiny black suits and thick black Roman hair-cuts of the stars appeared to a cascade of outrageous praise from the compere, the cinema went wild.

Nobody could hear themselves trying to think. The act was largely drowned, but it didn’t matter at all.

It was marvellous, meaningless impertinent, exhilarating stuff.

Derek Taylor
Daily Express, 31 May 1963

Taylor subsequently developed a close friendship with The Beatles and their management. He later became Brian Epstein’s personal assistant and ghostwriter of his autobiography, was The Beatles’ press officer during their US tour in 1964, and in 1968 was made press officer for Apple Corps.

Last updated: 25 January 2024
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