Films,  music

The Beatles: Get Back, The Rooftop Concert

Cinema is always a treat, a way of seeing what is bright, shiny and new in the world of films. But sometimes it is something more than that, an event that takes you back in time to see a snapshot of another time, another world. On Sunday I took a trip to my favourite cinema, The Light in Walsall, to watch the greatest band of all time on the big screen once more. The experience lasted for little more than an hour, but was something that had to be experienced on the big screen. I am talking about Get Back, the Rooftop Concert, a recording of the last live ‘concert/performance’ that the legendary Beatles ever did, one cold lunchtime in January 1969. It was filmed by Michael Lindsey Hogg and is an absolute delight in so many ways, not least as a time capsule to life at the tail end of the swinging sixties.

The concert itself took place on the roof of the Apple Headquarters on Saville Row on January 30th 1969. Cameras were set up on the roof, on the roof of an opposite building, and at street level in order to get the reactions of the public, who could hear, but couldn’t actually see, the band. There was also a camera inside Apple, which allowed the subsequent arrival of the police who tried to shut down proceedings to be filmed. The concert was unannounced – the music was just suddenly there, free to enjoy by the people in the streets below.

The Beatles hadn’t performed live in public since 1966, and there had been a whole lot of changes since then, not least the death of manager Brian Epstein, and the arrival on the scene of Yoko Ono and Linda Eastman. The band were in the final throes, and would split with much acrimony in 1970, but on this January day they truly seemed to enjoy playing live again, playing together as a band, and the future seemed bright, not least due to the wonderful new music which included ‘Get Back’ and ‘don’t let me down’. The addition of Billy Preston also added a new impetus to their playing, and as you watch Paul and John smiling at one another, you really wouldn’t believe it would all soon be over for the greatest band of all time.

Get Back, the rooftop concert, is currently playing at selected cinemas, and is well worth a watch. There has never been another band quite like the Fab Four, and seeing them so beautifully filmed is a real treat.

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