An exhaustive documentary on The Beatles touring years…

Despite their runaway success and enduring popularity, there isn’t what I would call a definitive Beatles documentary out there. Eight Days A Week still doesn’t feel like the film to plug that gap but it is a stunning, if not quite revelatory, examination of the mop tops touring years.

Interviews with Macca and Ringo are warm and illuminating but it is the archive footage from that era that is most fascinating. The numbers involved with Beatlemania are quite simply astounding, whether it be the band holding all 5 places at the top of the singles chart or their albums staying at number 1 for weeks at time. Not to mention the fact they pretty much invented the idea of a stadium tour.

I was a relative late comer to The Beatles, finally taking the Yellow Submarine down Abbey Road when I was about 13. I already loved Dylan and Springsteen but my early experiences with The Beatles were limited to being forced to attempt to play ‘Yesterday’ on a recorder at primary school. Involuntary woodwind is never the most successful way of connecting with music. A few years later however, someone lent me a compilation of every Beatles number one single and I was instantly smitten. I still vividly remember my growing excitement during a day at school about rushing home to listen to it. Since then, Liverpool’s most famous sons have been a constant on playlists but it’s been a while since I sat down and listened to an album. Eight Days A Week has inspired me to do just that and if this film doesn’t have you smiling all the way through, then we probably can’t be friends any more.

It is also striking to hear how good a live band The Beatles actually were, especially as they almost certainly couldn’t hear anything they were playing over the hysterical screams of their fans. Some songs in the documentary are played in their entirety and every rendition is note perfect.  Lost footage from the studio is also interesting and this ensures that Eight Days A Week is vital viewing for any Beatles fan.

Ron Howard is one of the most successful directors working in Hollywood today and Eight Days A Week sits comfortably alongside his best work.