BEATLES: Were they not nearly as good in live concert as they were on recordings that were modified?

ROBERT VENABAL - Beatles fan since 1964 writes:

Interesting question I’ve often struggled with. In their early days, they played many shows; up to three a day. They were so tight alcohol and drugs seemingly had no effect on them. They were already seasoned stage veterans when signed to first record deal and began recording in 1962. It was said that they could discuss a song before a show with little practice and perform it on stage flawlessly. They earned their chops playing hundreds of live gigs.

George Martin saw this raw talent and energy and had to “domesticate” them for the studio. Early sessions were raucous, inefficient and somewhat boring. However, these guys were artists and they soon learned that the studio gave them a different medium. The creative outlet was nothing they had experienced before.

As their fame skyrocketed globally, they were obliged to tour to satisfy record company execs and fans alike. It does appear from early film footage and interviews, the touring quickly became miserable. One top of that, it took them away from the studio that John especially missed. Up until 1965, the Beatles approached recording albums as putting together a bunch of singles. That all changes with the recording and release of “Rubber Soul”. It reinvented the band’s idea of what they could be. By August of 1966, after four non-stop years of touring, an exhausted band played their final true concert in San Francisco. This marked the beginning of one of the most influential and prolific recording periods in rock history.

Beginning with “Revolver” and culminating with the release of “Let it Be” four years later, how many of those brilliant songs were never performed by the four Beatles, ever again. By the time we get to the “White Album”, all four are not even present on every song. John begins to compose and record bringing in the others almost as session artist. Paul, able to play every instrument, begins playing all parts leaving some of the drumming to Ringo. George is the late bloomer and comes into his own. He brings in other artists at times to contribute to his work. The studio gives them all the ability to create like the stage never did.

After they recorded “She Said She Said”, “And Your Bird Can Sing”, “A Day in the Life”, “I Am the Walrus”, “Baby You’re A Rich Man”, or “Savoy Truffle”; were these songs ever played together again by the band? I wonder if in later sessions they revisited some of these songs to warm up or regain some inspiration. It makes me sad to think the likes of “Hey Bulldog” and “Across the Universe” may have never been played by the band again. In this day or artists recreating their iconic albums on stage, how amazing would it be to see the Beatles recreate “Abbey Road” as originally recorded.

If they band had somehow regained their collective desire to tour, I believe they would have been as good live as any band playing. It was this desire to get back out that contributed to Paul’s departure. If you look at the individuals post-Beatles, all four demonstrated their musicianship and showmanship. Paul and Ringo still go out today and perform to adoring audiences. It was timing, four strong personalities and a phenomenon never seen before that took this band from the stage too soon.

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