CMP’s World Beatles Day, which took place Thursday 10 July, may have been seen as some as a glorious celebration of Liverpool’s greatest contribution to music – the Fab Four.
Other, more cynical, commentators have suggested that it’s a rather shameless attempt to shore up the Summer Pops festival, and a rather cheap PR stunt at that.
So, why 10 July? Well it’s precisely 44 years to the day since John, Paul, George and Ringo successfully returned from the States at the height of Beatlemania. Do you see?
To celebrate the date that’s surely etched in the memory of every music fan around the world there were a series of events throughout the day, all tenuously related to the Fab Four, while a tribute concert featuring the likes of Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Quarrymen, John Power and Andy McCluskey rounded off the day.
Entry to the concert came with a free Beatles mop top wig ‘worth £5’, which concert-goers were invited to wear to Imagine – the Concert. Indeed politicians, media, PR types and local ‘celebrities’ had all-but implored Liverpudlians to wear the damn things on the day. I saw one solitary bus driver, looking thoroughly embarrassed.
The press releases that have accompanied World Beatles Day actually beggarbelief, containing gems imploring Liverpool folk to perform a myriad of stupidtasks, such as:
• Shave your head for charity and cover it up until it grows back with the Beatles wig
• Play ‘HIDE YOUR LOVE AWAY’ – you could hide him/her in the cupboard
• Cook a ‘Beatle meal’, including Onion Ringos, Sgt. Peppered Steak and Strawberry Fool
• Keep Fit – you and 3 mates have a ‘Band On the Run’ from the Beatles Story at Albert Dock to the Cavern on Mathew Street
• ‘ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE’ – propose to your girlfriend/boyfriend dressed asthe Beatle of your choice
• Spring Clean your house using your wig as a duster
Other events on the day in question included a ‘Beatles Fun Run’, ‘Beatles bands on rooftops’, ‘Beatles Parade’, ‘Beatles Portrait competition’ and ‘Bumper Beatles Quiz’. And so on.
Beatles Day and Summer Pops
Ignoring the fact that the whole affair reeks of the kind of tawdry muck-raking nostalgiafest that Liverpool seemed to be breaking free from in its Capital of Culture year, it’s interesting to note some of the economics behind World Beatles Day.
“What was just a simple idea to raise a few pounds for charity has developed very quickly into the makings of Liverpool’s very own Red Nose Day,” says promoter Chas Cole of CMP.
The charities receiving cash included Alder Hey Imagine and Liverpool Unites, but it’s difficult to discern exactly how much cash those causes will receive. ‘Proceeds’ or ‘profits’ for the day were variously reported as going to charidee – a subtle difference, but an important one.
The charity angle kind of insulates Beatles Day from any criticism, but the fact is that the whole affair looks like a tired excuse to publicise the flagging Pops, attendances of which have have been less than impressive.
The Pops is thought to have cost Liverpool between £3-4m since its launch in 2001 and was almost axed in 2007 due to lack of cash.
Beatles Day and the media
Predictably the media has had great fun churning out recycled press releases based around Beatles Day, with the Liverpool Echo – itself a sponsor of the Echo arena and Summer Pops – predictably breathless in its endless pushing of the event.
The Echo and Post printed about ten million articles bigging up Beatles Day before, during and since – articles hard to take seriously since the Echo particularly is so closely connected with the event.
So, what do the organisers of the traditional Beatle Week – held as part of the Mathew Street Festival between 20-26 August – make of all of this? Not much.
Beatles Story boss Jerry Goldman came straight to the point when he appeared on radio to suggest that Beatles Day would lower the city’s image of ‘Beatles Tourism’ and make a laughing stock of the city.
It’s hard to disagree, and the parade of Liverpool accents on phone-ins echoing these concerns suggests that many Liverpool folk born and bred feel the same way.
In a year when the city is the European Capital of Culture and there’s a whole host of new music, theatre, art and other media going on around the city, the spectacle of its fading celebrities donning mop-top wigs and singing songs written over 40 years ago was a backward step. We deserve better.
• Edited to add: Tonight’s (18 July) show features The Farm and The Maybes? Several members of the latter band could be seen giving out free tickets to the event earlier this evening.